For a guy who has never been traded, Kris Bryant sure pops up in a lot of rumors both past and present. Yesterday it was reported that the Cubs and Red Sox engaged in trade talks centering on Chicago’s third baseman over the summer.
There are at least a half dozen teams interested in Bryant. How interested remains to be seen.
— George Ofman (@georgeofman) November 24, 2020
Red Sox trade rumors: Kris Bryant deal was discussed this past summer, Boston still could have interest in 2016 NL MVP (report) https://t.co/BXiBTHEFsh
— Christopher Smith (@SmittyOnMLB) November 23, 2020
It’s tough to understand how that rumor makes sense for either team. The Cubs were competing for the NL Central title at the time and, though their 13-3 start was followed by a month and a half of mediocrity and a quick exit from the postseason, you can’t win the World Series without first getting to the playoffs. At the same time, Boston was suffering one of its worst seasons in recent memory, so acquiring Bryant would only make sense if they intend to compete with the Rays, Yankees, and Blue Jays for the AL East crown in 2021.
Plus, the Red Sox had recently traded Mookie Betts in the final year of his contract because their front office feared they could not afford to sign him. The 2020 Red Sox seem like a model of sorts for the current state of the Cubs, which is to say they have a number of good-but-not-great players who appear to be aging faster than they should with roster holes bigger than they appear on the surface.
When Boston traded Betts in February, they got back Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs. They would presumably give up much less to acquire Bryant, which would make it little more than a salary dump for the Cubs. It’s also possible Chaim Bloom thinks the Red Sox are closer to contending then the rest of us. Executives with historically successful franchises often refuse to accept seasons that offer little to no hope.
Most smart baseball people believe Bryant will bounce back, but after dealing with Dustin Pedroia for the last few seasons, it seems hard to imagine that an oft-injured player like Bryant would or could be a cornerstone for a ’21 playoff run in Beantown. And though the Red Sox do have Rafael Devers at third, he’s atrocious in the field and seems better suited for DH.
Bryant does have ties to Boston through his father, Mike, a Medford, MA native who played ball at UMass-Lowell before being drafted by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 1980 amateur draft. The elder Bryant is also a proponent of the Ted Williams book The Science of Hitting.
Regardless, Cubs can’t reasonably expect much in return if they do move their third baseman. The Braves are always mentioned as potential trade partners and the Nationals have reportedly shown interest in Bryant this winter and last, too. If the Cubs believe they can get one or both of Victor Robles and Carter Kieboom from Washington, a trade with Boston might net Jed Hoyer someone like Bobby Dalbec and/or Jay Groome. That said, Hoyer may be better off keeping Bryant while hoping his current roster has one last good run left.
Cubs News & Notes
- Hoyer received a five-year extension from the Cubs yesterday.
- The new president of baseball operations confirmed that his choice for GM will likely come from outside the organization and indicated that internal promotions are likely. “I really do value fresh ideas and new ideas,” Hoyer said Monday. “I think that’s important. Continuity is a wonderful thing but bringing people in from the outside can really benefit.”
- Here are five potential GM candidates.
- It may take some time before Hoyer starts reshaping his roster. “This offseason there is a lot of uncertainty,” the newly minted executive said. “I think it’s probably going to move a little bit slower than some offseasons. So I think we may try to get a sense of the landscape before we move forward.”
- Several variables, including financial limitations and uncertainty surrounding 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, could make Hoyer’s first year much more challenging than under normal circumstances.
- Hoyer may also have to wait on 2021 rules changes, particularly extending the universal DH rule and a decision on expanded playoffs, before reshaping his roster.
- During his presser yesterday, Hoyer declined to address the team’s expected payroll for next season.
- The new president of baseball operations also said that though the Cubs aren’t engaged in contract-extension talks with any of their core players, such talks might restart soon.
- The Cubs’ new executive team sees this winter as a chance to retool while remaining competitive in the NL Central.
- Add the Mets to the growing list of teams that may be interested in acquiring Bryant to make a ’21 run for the World Series.
- The Nationals see Bryant as a middle-of-the-order bat who would replace the production the team lost when Anthony Rendon left in free agency.
- The Yankees and Cubs match up well in a potential deal for left fielder Kyle Schwarber. Third baseman Miguel Andújar could be a potential return, which would allow the Cubs to trade Bryant or move him to left field..
- Tom Ricketts stated that a vaccine may not arrive soon enough to save the team’s baseball operations budget.
- Rangers SP Lance Lynn would be an attractive acquisition for the Cubs if they can afford the final year of his contract.
- I mentioned this last week, but Jake Arrieta might be a good fit for the Cubs on a one-year deal.
Odds & Sods
Just in case you need one more reason to hate the 1969 Mets.
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) September 5, 2020
It appears that the Rays are making starter Blake Snell available to other teams, including those in their own division, with the Mariners and Angels both interested in acquiring the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner.
After having his $15 million option turned down by the Rays, Charlie Morton has agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves for that same amount.
The Red Sox are showing strong interest in free agent Yankees starter J.A. Happ. The lefty, who turned 38 in October, posted a 3.47 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP in nine starts for New York in 2020. He held the opposition to a .208 batting average.
The Mets have abandoned their search for a president of baseball operations and will instead focus on landing a GM.
MLB has rescheduled the White Sox-Yankees Field of Dream Game for August 12.
“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” – Arthur Carlson (played by actor Gordon Jump)
If you haven’t seen the 1978 Thanksgiving episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, I implore you to do so.
On November 23rd, 1978 at the Pinedale Shopping Mall history was made. pic.twitter.com/uAVLWnbzof
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) November 24, 2020
They Said It
- “I don’t look at it as following [Theo Epstein]. I’ve been here the whole time. If you think about it as following a Hall of Fame executive, that can be daunting. If you look at as following your mentor, after having been part of it for nine years, that’s probably a better way to view the experience.” – Jed Hoyer
- “We face a new challenge imposed by the reality of our player service time and the realities of our world in 2020. As with all the challenges we have faced here, we will study them, we will use our collective experience, and then we will move boldly to do what is in the best interest of the Cubs.” – Hoyer
- “If people think of him as Theo’s guy, I think that would be an incredible compliment. [Epstein] is a Hall of Famer. You don’t get to be ‘Theo’s guy’ unless you are really good yourself. Jed can hang with [him] because he can match him intellectually, he can think quickly on his feet [and] he has the empathy to relate to everyone [from] baseball operations [to the] players. He can take feedback and do something with it, he can navigate difficult conversations, and he can do all of that without needing credit.” – Ben Cherington
- “If there was GM draft, Jed would be a first-rounder.” – Unnamed Player Agent
Tuesday Walk Up Song
With a Little Luck by Paul McCartney & Wings – Likely in heavy rotation on ‘KRP back in 1978.