The Chicago Cubs are coming off a disappointing season, and Theo Epstein has left the door open for some big moves this offseason.
The Chicago Cubs won 95 regular season games, but a loss in the NL Wild Card game means they fell short of expectations last season. There are indications of budget constraints coming from ownership, which required a trade to pickup Cole Hamels’ $20 million option and are likely to keep the Cubs out of the market for the biggest free agents this offseason.
Coming out of this week’s GM meetings, the rumor mill is starting to turn at full tilt for hot stove season. With big contracts (Yu Darvish, Jason Heyward) and players in line for a raise via arbitration this winter (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks), the Cubs may be looking to offload some payroll.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Cubs have told teams they are willing to discuss trade proposals for almost any player on their roster. That notably includes Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and 2016 NL MVP who is coming off a down year as he battled a shoulder injury (.272/.374/.460 slash-line, 13 home runs and 52 RBI over 102 games).
Team president Theo Epstein is leaving the door open for a trade of anyone, up to and including Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Bryant is under team control through 2021, so trading him seems unlikely while those years of team control also make him an appealing trade target. The Cubs reportedly approached Bryant about a deal worth north of $200 million not too long ago, but were turned down. A report refuting the offer was even made surfaced soon after.
Trading Bryant is incredibly unlikely, but Epstein is savvy enough to not really tip his hand and he’s right to not close the door on anything. If some younger, cheaper pieces can be acquired to fill some roster holes, moving Bryant and his increasing cost might be the easiest move.