According to a report from MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette, the Cubs have told Kris Bryant that he will not be traded unless they get a “sweetheart-type” offer from another team. What exactly that means is certainly open to interpretation, but let’s see if we can’t connect a few dots on this one.
Jim Duquette said on MLB Network Radio that Kris Bryant has been told by the Cubs that he's not getting traded unless they get a "sweetheart-type" offer from another team.
— Josh Finkelstein (@JoshFink313) January 27, 2021
The most obvious parallel is to last March, when Bryant himself dismissed the ubiquitous trade rumors by citing the Cubs’ asking price.
“It hasn’t been a distraction at all,” Bryant told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “I mean, Theo keeps asking for the moon for me, which is pretty cool, because I’m not going to get traded then. Keep doing that, Theo. ‘We want the team’s best player and their top two prospects.’ That’s all it’s going to take.”
More recent reports have held that the Cubs consider eating much salary to be a non-starter and that their desired return has prevented other teams from getting beyond exploratory talks. So while Jed Hoyer may not have used the exact words mentioned above, it makes sense that he’s seeking a big return and would also like to set Bryant’s mind at ease.
The Cubs want to extract as much value as possible in any future deal and it would make even more sense to afford one of their star players the respect he deserves. After all, respect is about the only thing the Cubs can afford right now and even that is apparently in short supply.
The front office would have egg on its face after manipulating Bryant’s service time to gain an extra year of control, only to have him earn a $19.5 million contract that leaves the Cubs unable to move him before it expires. An extension seems like less of a possibility than ever due to the team’s financial state, so the only remaining hope may be that Bryant shows out and the Cubs can move him at the deadline.
Hell, I’ve gone on record as saying that a team truly willing to compete this season could try to ride out his contract year and then use qualifying offer compensation and/or the salary savings as a way to retool. Though the Cubs won’t add enough to be on par with the NL’s major contenders, the rest of the Central has spent a combined $2.2 million this offseason. It won’t take much to win the division in ’21, that’s for sure.
Again, I don’t believe the Cubs have told Bryant much of anything when it comes to the conversations they’re having with other teams about him. I do, however, believe they’re asking for more in those talks than other teams are willing to part with, hence the continuing rumors.