As the new season approaches, and we go that bit further into the off-season, rumors are transpiring from all angles. The 2021 MLB Hot Stove is strife with rumors that could see Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks heading to Toronto.
With a busy off-season heavily touted in Chicago prior to it, they followed through by trading Yu Darvish, Theo Epstein left, and now there are rumors of Hendricks and Bryant following suit.
2021 MLB Hot Stove: Cubs Cleaning House
From the Cubs" perspective, it"s hard to see positives in letting Darvish and Caratini go, Schwarber and Lester leaving, and now the potential of losing Bryant and Hendricks, but it was something that was needed to make space on the roster, and to develop the organization as a whole.
Although this means allowing players who have become part of the Cubs" identity, this allows for a huge cut in payroll for the 2021 season. According to Spotrac, Darvish would have earned $21m in 2021, Caratini $1.3m, Lester $25m (they still paid $10m to buy out his contract), Schwarber $7m, Bryant $19.5m, and Hendricks $14m. Even Tyler Chatwood would have been around $3m to re-sign.
This is a lot to payout. With the direction the organization is going, now is the best time to re-group and refresh the roster. This comes at the expense of losing key players of recent years, but if there"s a time to clean house, now is that time.
2021 MLB Hot Stove: Blue Jays Continue to Spend
After losing in the Wildcard to the Rays in 2020, the Blue Jays will be looking to give themselves a further boost by expanding their roster to allow for a clean entry to the Play-offs.
With the potential additions of Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks, there would be no doubting their abilities to compete for the AL East against the Yankees and the Rays. And now would be the time to do so. They have Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio all on pre-arb contracts, thus allowing them the room to spend the salary elsewhere.
2021 MLB Hot Stove: Cubs or Blue Jays for Bryant and Hendricks?
After such a positive 2019 for Kri Bryant, he somewhat struggled in the shortened season. He averaged just .206 and hit four homers, a far cry from his All-Star season in 2019.
Is a fresh start what is needed for Bryant? After losing his service time grievance, that may be just what the doctor ordered to resurrect his career.
Naturally, a 3B, the Blue Jays are covered in that position by none other than Vlad Guerrero, so would his secondary role of being an outfielder the better solution? This could be beneficial for him as he can focus more on his bat, and less so on making defensive plays, thus hopefully going back to the Kris Bryant who hit 138 HRs in five seasons.
And Kyle Hendricks? He has been consistently performing for the Cubs since 2014, yet to have a negative win/loss ratio.
On the back of another solid season, Hendricks could be the key guy in the rotation in Chicago, however he has the potential to be part of something special in Toronto. With the likes of Guerrero, Bichette, Springer, and possibly Bryant in their offense, and Yates and Chatwood in the pitching side, they look a lot stronger than the team who made the Wildcard in 2020.
2021 MLB Hot Stove: Final Thoughts
It may be a surprise for the Cubs to potentially lose another pair of their star players, but this seems to make sense. The players need to mix it up and have a new challenge, whilst the Cubs seem to be in the midst of a complete overhaul. With the right mix of youth and experienced FAs or trades, they could have a steady 2021 season, looking to refresh in 2022 and beyond.
From the Blue Jays perspective, this is huge. This could be the difference between a third or second-place finish in the AL East; possibly even a first-place spot. If they continue to head in this direction, and they get all of their offensive talents firing then they could be a dangerous proposition in 2021.
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