Kris Bryant lost his grievance case this morning, which was a big win for the Cubs. Congrats on further alienating one of your best players! Any time you get the chance to ruin your relationship with the only player to ever win the Golden Spikes, Minor League Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and MVP in consecutive years, you've just gotta. Take THAT, Scott Boras!
So what happens next? Given the Cubs' track record this offseason, probably absolutely nothing – but that doesn't make for an interesting article. So here's my idea, and friends, it is dumb:
The Cubs and the Red Sox are sort of in the same position regarding these two. Both front offices are sufficiently spooked by the idea of market value, which means both players have found themselves fully wrapped up in the trade rumor mill. So why not trade them for one another? (this is rhetorical please stop yelling) Cubs fans deserve something this offseason besides shrewd minor league contracts.
Here's the Cubs' logic/common sense in general: Mookie Betts is probably the best position player in baseball not named Mike Trout. He's coming off a "down" year in which he posted a 135 wRC+, which was only the 23rd best mark in 2019. What value! He was roughly a 6-win (6.6 fWAR) player in 2019. To put that in perspective, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and Jason Heyward were worth 6.5 wins combined. All of Statcast's fancy numbers say that Betts was basically the same as Heyward in right field last year, too. So Betts, at least last year, was quite literally a combination of Jason Heyward's glove and Kris Bryant's bat (135 wRC+). They're clearly itching to stop paying both of them, a bill that'll end up costing them about $41 million this season; Betts will run the Sox $27 million. Getting the same amount of production for $14 million is quite literally the Ricketts' dream.
There are lots of problems. That move, in a vacuum, would get the Cubs under the luxury tax – but just barely. It'd require the Red Sox, who are ALSO looking to get under the luxury tax (being a big market team is just such a burden), to probably take on an albatross of a contract that prevents them from that. The Sox also have Rafael Devers at third, and just brought Mitch Moreland back to handle first base. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi are by no means blocking Bryant from those spots, but the organization specifically brought new GM Chaim Bloom on to avoid these types of deals.
Both teams would want prospects, too. Neither farm systems are particularly flush with established talent at the moment, but there's actually a lowkey-fun fit there. The Red Sox system's Top-10 is RHP-heavy, which has been the bane of Chicago's existence. There's quietly more upside in the Cubs' minors than they get credit for, so maybe that's a starting point? The Cubs get some righties for The Pitch Lab, and the Sox get some high-ceiling guys that can help better fill out their Top-10.
To be clear, this won't happen. Bryant-for-Betts doesn't make nearly as much sense as, say, Bryant-for-Arenado might, and trading for Betts would mean shedding even more salary than they already have. But it'd be FUN, and that's something that Cubs baseball could undoubtedly use. I told you guys this was dumb. There's a reason no one liked the Tweet.