The Cubs made it official, and have tendered a contract to Kris Bryant. But do they still intend to trade him?
Having Bryant under contract for at least the next season will help matters as they shop him on the trading block for the rest of the offseason. Part of Jed Hoyer’s hesitation to trade Bryant is that the return for him isn’t what his value might suggest — that is, at his best Bryant is an MVP talent, but injuries and a slump during the shortened 2020 season have raised questions as to if he’ll ever reach that apex again.
The Cubs are in a bad spot, however. The longer they hold onto Bryant, the more risk they take in. If Hoyer commits to keeping Bryant well into the 2021 regular season, and he doesn’t bounce back in a way that dramatically improves his impact on a winning ball-club, then his value will diminish by the day, literally. Waiting until the trade deadline and getting a lacking prospect package in return for a player who won the MVP in 2016 and helped lead the Cubs to a World Series hardly seems worth the trouble.
The Ricketts family isn’t willing to give Bryant the money he feels he’s worth, though. So Hoyer’s hands are tied, and he must make the most out of whatever trade packages he’s receiving at the moment. Bryant hit just .204 in 34 injury-riddled games last year. With all that in mind, these teams can offer the Cubs the most realistic — and best — return in exchange for his services.
3. Atlanta Braves
The Braves have been hesitant to trade for Bryant thus far, but after losing Adam Duvall, and likely Marcell Ozuna, to free agency, their lineup will be lacking. Third base is a position of interest for Atlanta this offseason, and they have two potential building blocks at the position to trade in exchange. Bryant is expensive, and will make around $18 million in 2021. But if anyone is familiar with one-year prove-it deals, it’s the Braves, and this would serve as another gamble for Alex Anthopoulos.
The Braves signed Josh Donaldson to a one-year deal in excess of $20 million before the 2019 season. Last year, they brought Marcell Ozuna in. While both players eventually left for greener pastures, it symbolizes an organizational viewpoint on high-priced, short-term deals.
The Braves wouldn’t give up any of their prized prospects for Bryant, but they could offer up one of Johan Camargo or Austin Riley. Atlanta would prefer to deal the 26-year-old Camargo to the 23-year-old Riley, but with enough negotiating both might be available.