Cubs

Diamondbacks emerge as another potential suitor in Kris Bryant trade talks

Diamondbacks emerge as another potential suitor in Kris Bryant trade talks

Add the Arizona Diamondbacks to the trade rumor carousel rotating around Kris Bryant this winter.

With teams like the Nationals, Braves, Dodgers and Rangers already reportedly interested in the Cubs superstar, the D-Backs have also apparently expressed interest, according to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM's John Gambadoro:

Now, framing it as the Diamondbacks simply "exploring the option of trading for Bryant" is not exactly groundbreaking, because why wouldn't a team hoping to contend at least kick the tires on a potential deal to add star talent? Gambadoro's report doesn't position Arizona as a strong suitor right now, but it would make sense for both sides.

As the regular season was winding down last fall, Bleacher Report ranked the Diamondbacks the sixth-best farm system in baseball, with as many as five or six prospects on the Top 100 list. 

Arizona's stable of prospects is led by a slew of position players that are likely at least a couple years away from the big leagues (like 19-year-old outfielder Kristian Robinson) and pitcher Corbin Martin, who was a major piece from the Astros in the Zack Greinke trade last July. Martin, 24, would be a premier headliner for a Bryant deal and was named the No. 78 prospect in the game by Baseball America last winter. However, he also just had Tommy John surgery in July, so he will miss a good portion of the 2020 campaign.

As the Cubs try to retool their team on the fly, the Diamondbacks don't have a ton to offer in the way of big-league-ready assets, which could be a major factor if talks between the two teams develop any further.

The Cubs' asking price for Bryant is said to be extremely high (as it should be), so it likely starts with Arizona's 24-year-old pitcher Zac Gallen who sported a 2.81 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in his first big-league season last year (15 starts). From there, the Cubs would probably also ask for one or two players from the top of the prospect group (Martin, Robinson, Seth Beer, Alek Thomas, etc.). 

Bryant and the Cubs avoided arbitration by reaching an agreement for an $18.6 million deal last week, but his service time grievance still isn't settled. Once that gets finalized (which is expected to result in two more years of team control before Bryant hits free agency), the Cubs can potentially pull the trigger on their most tradeable asset. It would also behoove the Cubs front office if free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson finally signs and knocks down another domino in the third base market.

It's looking more and more likely the Cubs deal Bryant sometime before the July deadline, as they hope to maximize his trade value and acquire long-term assets to extend their window of contention beyond the 2021 season.

David Bote puts his sweet swing to use, assists two Cubs fans in gender reveal

David Bote puts his sweet swing to use, assists two Cubs fans in gender reveal

David Bote put his sweet, sweet swing to special use on Tuesday.

Prior to the Cubs’ Cactus League game vs. the Rockies, a couple of Cubs fans asked Bote to partake in their gender reveal. The duo brought a powder-infused baseball, asking Bote to take a hack to reveal whether they’re having a boy or girl.

The father-to-be tossed the ball to Bote, who smashed it open to unleash a pink cloud of powder — signifying the couple will have a girl. The 26-year-old infielder — who has two daughters himself — threw his arms in the air to celebrate.

No matter how you feel about gender reveals, you’ve gotta love the uniqueness of this one and Bote partaking in the special moment. Here’s to a healthy life for the baby! 

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Cubs' Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start in spring training

Cubs' Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start in spring training

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes and failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who has struggled immensely at the plate for the last season and a half.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit that he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

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Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

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