The Chicago Cubs may not be as close to trading third baseman Kris Bryant as some would believe.
Bryant is currently in the middle of a grievance dispute with the Chicago Cubs over his Major League Baseball service. To clarify, it is agent Scott Boras and the MLB Players Association that has taken aim at the Cubs and Major League Baseball over Bryant’s service time. The grievance is over whether Bryant will be a free agent after the 2020 season or if he will be a free agent after the 2021 season.
The Cubs’ off-season plans have been placed on hold as they await the ruling on the grievance hearing. The Cubs are committed to not going over the luxury tax for a second consecutive season and with already being at the luxury tax threshold, the Cubs can not add any more commitments to the Major League roster until they first create financial flexibility.
The flexibility that many have speculated will come from the Cubs trading Bryant. Trading Bryant would create approximately $18.6 million in payroll flexibility in the 2020 season. However, the thought has been that Cubs are waiting until after the ruling is made on the grievance hearing to trade Bryant.
That thought may not be entirely accurate.
David Kaplan of NBC Chicago tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that the Cubs have made few preparations for a potential Bryant trade.
Kaplan’s tweet does provide a glimpse into the Cubs’ thought process.
The first takeaway from the tweet is that the Cubs do not have appeared to have done much legwork on a potential Bryant deal. That should be taken as somewhat of a surprise considering that logic would suggest that the Cubs’ front office would set-up contingency plans with teams that are interested in trading Bryant.
The contingency plan being that the Cubs’ front office would accept Package A from an interested team if it is ruled that Bryant is a free agent after two seasons, or Package B from the same interested team if it is ruled that Bryant will be a free agent after the 2020 season.
The fact that the Cubs’ front office has not done so would seemingly indicate that not much consideration has been made into trading Bryant yet. Considering that we are a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training and the Cubs, if Kaplan is to be believed, have not had concrete trade talks involving Bryant, it would then shift the odds significantly in the favor of Bryant beginning the season with the Cubs.
Beginning the season with Bryant may not be a terrible option for the Cubs’ either. Ignoring the fact that Bryant, with the exception of Javier Baez on a hot-streak, is the Cubs’ best player, holding onto the former National League MVP would also allow the team to re-evaluate their priorities before pulling the trigger a potential deal.
Meaning, if the Cubs start the season and return to form as one of the best teams in the National League, it is highly unlikely that the team would consider a trade of Bryant. Such a scenario may also shift the spending restrictions that the ownership group has placed on the front office.
Or, in the event, that the Cubs struggle to begin the 2020 season, Bryant then instantly becomes the Cubs’ best trade chip and one of the top position players on the trade market for teams looking for an offensive boost at the trade market. A scenario that likely would see more teams interested Bryant than currently are given the uncertainty over his contract status.
What does Bryant’s future hold for the Chicago Cubs? Sound off in the comments section below and let us know.