Kris Bryant May Be Next, as the Cubs Continue to Retool

Like it or not, Kris Bryant is likely to be the next Cubs’ player moved, as the team continues what appears to be another retool and/or rebuild. To no one’s surprise, Kris Bryant was tendered a contract before the deadline, as were Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini, and Ian Happ.

Kris Bryant to the Nationals?

The Cubs have made it known that they would listen to offers on all players, including their veteran infielders. To date, Kris Bryant’s name has drawn the most attention, with the Washington Nationals looking like a potential landing zone for the Cubs’ veteran third baseman.

For the Nationals, obtaining Bryant would mean a year of controllability and a possible long-term replacement for Anthony Rendon. After Rendon’s departure, the Nationals have been playing mix-and-match at third base with a combination of Asdrubal Cabrera and Carter Kieboom.

The Nationals work well with Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, while the Cubs… well, not so much. Bryant is due for free agency after the 2021 season, following the loss of his service time manipulation grievance which was filed against the Cubs in 2015. Both sides have maintained an outwardly friendly relationship, but deep down, Kris Bryant knows he was taken advantage of, and that’s something neither Bryant nor Boras will forget.

Recent reports have claimed that talks between the Cubs and Nationals were considered “serious,” though who the Nats are (or were) offering in return remains a mystery. After appearing in only 34 games last season due to various injuries (wrist, oblique, elbow), Bryant batted only .206/.293/.351, further driving down his trade value.

Should the Cubs Deal Kris Bryant?

Yes, yes, yes. Despite three All-Star appearances (2015-16, 2019) and an MVP Award (2016), Kris Bryant has been on a downward trend since the beginning of 2018. His offensive stats saw a bit of an uptick in 2019 (.282/.382/.521), but his defense had begun slipping some, and his injuries now seem perpetual.

According to Spotrac, from June 26, 2018, through the end of last season, Bryant has spent a total of 68 days on the IL, costing the Cubs a total of $4,589,448.00, and that doesn’t count injuries like the concussion he suffered in 2018 and other boo-boos that have cost him bench time.

The Cubs should have dealt Kris Bryant the minute that he lost his service time grievance – when he still had trade value and two years of controllability – but instead, the team hoped he’d bounce back and thus stood by him. Big mistake.

Back in 2019, it appeared as though the Braves and Cubs were contemplating a deal for Bryant. It was rumored that Atlanta would have parted ways with third base prospect Austin Riley, LHP Max Fried and Willson Contreras’ younger brother, William Contreras (catcher prospect). Oh, what could have been if they’d only made that trade.

Fried went 7-0 in 11 starts last season, posting a 2.25 ERA. Although Riley struggled at the plate, his .239/.301/.415 slash line looks great when compared to what Kris Bryant hit. William Contreras only appeared in four games (10 at-bats), but slashed .400/.400/.500 with an OPS of .900; he also accumulated a double and one RBI.

The return won’t be nearly as high for Bryant now, but the Cubs are in a position where they either deal him or let him walk as a free agent after next season. Both sides claim that they want an extension with the Cubs, but Boras isn’t going to be offering any hometown discounts. He has said he’d listen to any “reasonable extension offers,” but what’s reasonable? Bryant has already reportedly turned down $200M, an offer that he’s not likely to see again anytime soon.

A change of scenery for Kris Bryant might just be best for all parties involved.

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Ken Allison, Baseball Dept Head
Ken Allison is the senior of two MLB Department Heads, as well as a writer and editor for Overtime Heroics. A life-long MLB fan, he's also written for CubsHQ and had the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs in 1986.

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