I had a little inner debate over whether to write this up at all, but I figured a quick treatment was at least minimally worthwhile based on what we’ve seen in previous reports. There have been several conflicting rumors about the Nationals’ interest in Kris Bryant, including one from Ken Rosenthal that almost seemed to contradict itself within the course of two or three paragraphs.
That trend continued during a Tuesday media session with Washington manager Dave Martinez and GM Mike Rizzo. After addressing a number of topics ranging from his current players to his willingness to take the coronavirus vaccine, Martinez told reporters Bryant’s name “comes up in conversations.” That jibes with one report that the existing relationship between the two from Martinez’s time in Chicago as Joe Maddon‘s bench coach.
Davey Martinez on Kris Bryant's status with the Cubs: "His name comes up in conversations."
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) December 15, 2020
But before any rumor flames began to lick from the hot stove, Rizzo threw water on them by saying it’s been “probably two years” since they talked seriously about Bryant. Weird, it’s almost like some of this stuff in the media gets blown out of proportion.
Rizzo: “We haven’t had a serious conversation about Kris Bryant in probably two years."
— Todd Dybas (@Todd_Dybas) December 15, 2020
The Nats aren’t expected to spend big heading into 2021, at least not on a very limited deal that won’t really help them beyond this season, and they’ve reportedly been adamant about excluding any top players or prospects in a potential deal. That knowledge led MLB Network Radio’s Mike Ferrin to suggest that Starlin Castro is really the best return the Cubs could hope to get from Washington at this point.
No way does that make any sense, nor do any number of other potential trades other teams are willing to offer at this point. The Cubs simply don’t have any leverage in the matter, which could end up being better for them in the end. Whether it gives them more time to either work something else out with Bryant or allow him to build his value by proving he’s healthy, the return is almost sure to be better than a redundant rental player.
What’s more, the Cubs’ rumored interest in Jackie Bradley Jr. actually makes more sense if Bryant is still around. Even in a down year, the third baseman was one of the team’s best hitters against left-handed pitchers, an area in which they struggled mightily on the whole. The left-handed-hitting Bradley excelled in that regard in 2020 but it’s not been a strong suit for him otherwise, so signing him and trading Bryant could create even greater imbalance.
Now let’s just hope we start getting some more actual news soon.