Since the Cubs’ offseason started back in October, one of the biggest questions was whether the club would trade third baseman Kris Bryant this winter.
Coming off a disappointing 2019 season, the thought was dealing Bryant would help the Cubs gain financial flexibility and young assets to improve the long-term health of the franchise. To date, no Bryant trade has appeared close, though the lengthy process behind resolving his service time grievance is partially to blame.
Furthermore, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan, teams aren’t willing to offer the Cubs what they seek in exchange for Bryant.
“They feel like ‘We have got to get a justifiable haul back to make the trade,’” Kaplan said of the Cubs’ thinking on the latest Cubs Talk Podcast. “But some of the people that I get to talk to in the game say ‘[Bryant is a] good player. You want what for him, and we’re supposed to take on all $43 million of his arbitration awards for the next two years? No, not gonna happen.’
“Some of these guys on other teams are telling me ‘Hey, we like Kris, but he’s not the violent offensive impact guy he was in 2015 and ’16. Yeah, we’re good. If you want to trade him, we’ll make you a fair deal. If you think you’re going to get a haul that will restart your organization, not gonna happen.’”
Bryant has been a quality player (2.3 and 4.8 WAR, respectively; 126 and 135 wRC+) the past two seasons. However, he enjoyed more offensive success in his first three big-league seasons (6.1, 7.9, 6.7 WAR; 136, 148, 147 wRC+).
Debilitating shoulder and knee injuries played a part in Bryant’s lesser 2018 and 2019 production. Now that he’s healthy, it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns to his 2015-17 form this coming season.
Until then, it makes sense why there’s a discrepancy between the Cubs and other teams on Bryant’s value. A disparity also exists between the Cubs and the 28-year-old regarding the value of a potential contract extension, according to Kaplan, an obvious reason why Bryant's name has been a fixture in trade rumors to begin with.
The Cubs are right to swing for the fences in what they ask for Bryant, but they may not get what they seek for the former MVP, at least not at this point in time.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.