The first domino of this offseason’s third base market has fallen.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, free agent Anthony Rendon is set to sign a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Texas Rangers were also linked to Rendon in recent days, but they’ll now have to shift their focus elsewhere. The other superstar free agent third baseman — Josh Donaldson — is reportedly drawing interest from the Rangers and Nationals, Rendon's former team.
The Angels look likd they are the favorites to sign Anthony REndon... The Rangers had one meeting with Scott Boras and nothing more.... Rangers attention is now on Josh Donaldson— TR Sullivan (@Sullivan_Ranger) December 12, 2019
The #Nats remain very aggressive on Josh Donaldson— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 12, 2019
The Braves, Donaldson's former team, are also in the market for a third baseman. This leads us to the Cubs and Kris Bryant. With Rendon off the board and Donaldson soon to follow, a potential trade market for the Cubs third baseman is growing clearer.
The Los Angeles Dodgers also were linked to Rendon, though they don’t necessarily need a third baseman with Justin Turner manning the hot corner. Their pursuit of Rendon points to how they’re willing to shift Turner off third base, however. Add them to the list of teams seeking third base help.
Add that all up, and you have four teams in the market for Donaldson. The Cubs aren’t guaranteed to trade Bryant, but they’ll soon find themselves with some leverage. For the three teams that don’t land Donaldson, the most logical move will be to inquire with the Cubs about trading for Bryant. The Nationals have already inquired about Bryant, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi.
Bryant’s unresolved service time case will be an issue in any potential negotiations. The difference between two years of control (if he loses) and one (if he wins) is big when it comes to his value. Even though they’ll have leverage over interested teams, the Cubs will yield stronger trade proposals for Bryant if he loses his case.
But, again, a trade is no certainty. What is certain is teams will be inquiring about Bryant in the not-so-distant future, once Donaldson chooses his free agent destination.