We’ve seen Kris Bryant connected to the Mets in trade rumors this week and now have another report — this out of New York — confirming those talks.
Mike Puma of the New York Post reported Friday the Cubs and Mets have had recent dialogue regarding a potential trade for the 2016 NL MVP.
Puma’s report follows Thursday’s from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale stating the Cubs and Mets have had recent talks about Bryant. However, those talks appear to have been before New York went out and added superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor in a trade with Cleveland.
The Mets have shown a willingness to spend this offseason and have an extra $20 million to work with due to Robinson Cano’s 162-game suspension for a positive performance enhancing drugs test. And in a potential Bryant trade package, the Cubs don’t figure to need a major return if someone takes on his entire salary — which will be around $20 million in arbitration next season (his final of club control).
Puma adds the Cubs “really like” 19-year-old catcher Francisco Alvarez, the Mets’ No. 2 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. However, team president Sandy Alderson said Friday the Mets “made it clear” to the Indians they weren’t going to trade their top prospects. New York sent right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene to Cleveland — ranked ninth and 10th overall in their system in 2020 — in a four-player package.
But Alderson also made some interesting comments Thursday about outfielder/first baseman Dominic Smith.
“Putting Dominic Smith in left field is not ideal,” Alderson said. “He can play there, and to get his bat in the lineup, he probably will end up playing quite a bit there. But that’s not ideal for us regardless of what we do at another position.”
Smith, 26 in June, is under club control through 2024. He hit .316/.377/.616 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs in 50 games last season, though he’s tallied -7 Defensive Runs Saved in the outfield since 2018.
If the Mets were to acquire Bryant — capable of playing all three outfield spots — perhaps a package could include Smith, landing the Cubs something of substance in return without New York dipping heavily into its farm system.
Smith could DH for the Mets next season and beyond, but NL clubs are operating under the assumption they won't have a designated hitter in 2021. The Cubs obviously would face a similar question about Smith's defensive deficiencies, but they currently have just three outfielders on their roster in Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Phillip Ervin.
Plus, the Cubs didn’t have a great defensive left fielder in recent seasons — as much as Kyle Schwarber improved out there during his time in Chicago.
Of course, the Cubs could keep Bryant — a key part of their lineup — and play him in left and at third base. It's also important to remember a trade this winter isn't "fait accompli," as team president Jed Hoyer said last month.