Mike Rizzo thinks trading multiple prospects for one year of a high-priced free agent is generally an inappropriate team-building plan. That may be the reason on Tuesday he essentially flushed the idea of Kris Bryant joining the Nationals.
On a Zoom call with reporters, Rizzo said the Nationals have not “had a serious conversation about Kris Bryant in probably two years.”
“He’s not a big guy on our radar last year or this year,” Rizzo said. “He’s a great player. But, at this point in time with where we’re at and what we have in our farm system and where we’re going we think we can allocate our dollars and prospect capital in a better way.”
This is precisely the issue of attempting to trade for Bryant. He would cost the Nationals, if they took on the final year of his full salary, roughly $18 million. Obtaining him would also require sending out prospects from a lowly-rated farm system, though Rizzo often says it is much better off than given credit for.
There is a need for what Bryant would provide. The Nationals could use Carter Kieboom again at third base, entertain sliding Starlin Castro to the spot or sign one of the myriad free agents available who can play third. The position was a black hole in 2020, the first season after Anthony Rendon’s departure to Anaheim in free agency. The Nationals finished 26th in fWAR among third baseman last season.
Rizzo’s comments came less than an hour after manager Davey Martinez said Bryant’s “name has definitely come up in conversations.” Martinez was responding to a roundabout question from a Chicago reporter when commenting on Bryant, whom he called a “very good player” that he liked a lot.
The Nationals have been attached to trade rumors around Bryant for two years because of Rendon’s pending, then followed-up on, departure. They are now thin in the middle of their lineup and likely to make a significant expenditure to fill the space. Rizzo said Tuesday finding a middle-of-the-order bat is the organization’s priority in the offseason.
In regard to trading for players on one-year deals, Rizzo further played down the idea as a general strategy.
“I think each one-year deal is its own one-year deal,” Rizzo said. “They’re all different. To me, one-year deals have to really coincide to where you’re at with your ball club, with your franchise. It’s never a good idea to get one year of a really good player for three or four prospects for the future. So, it all depends on the amount of money you’re going to take in, the performance level of the players you’re going to give away, the player you’re getting. What does your timeline look like to win, what’s your winning window look like. So, there’s a lot of ingredients baked into that decision.”
All of those layers as they pertain to the current state of the Nationals suggest a trade for Bryant is a non-starter. And, to top it off, the GM basically said as much Tuesday.