The Chicago Cubs have struggled offensively throughout the 2021 season but one player that has returned to superstar form is Kris Bryant. There is no question that Bryant struggled during the 2020 season. Injuries limited Bryant to only 34 games last season and that resulted in a .206/.293/.351 slash line with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs.
Is Kris Bryant going to spend the rest of his career with the Chicago Cubs?
Bryant’s production during the 2020 season left many fans questioning whether the Cubs regretted having an extra year of control over the third baseman and questioning if his trade value was so depleted that it would not be worth the Cubs to even shop the former National League MVP.
Bryant, however, took note of his critics last season and is now embarking on the beginning of a revenge season. The 2021 Major League Baseball season is not even out of the month of April yet and Bryant has already surpassed his 2020 numbers. In 21 games this season, Bryant is hitting .289/.375/.618 with 6 home runs and 16 RBIs. Bryant’s 1.2 WAR is the second-best in the National League behind the 1.7 WAR that Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. possesses
What Bryant is proving this year is that he is still one of the best offensive players in the game when healthy. The question is, in light of Bryant’s hot start, what does this mean for Bryant’s future with the Cubs?
The initial theory is that Bryant’s hot start may move up the timeline for the third baseman to be traded. Bryant has been subject to trade rumors for much of the past two seasons and teams may be willing to get his bat in their lineup sooner rather than later. Let’s back up and review why Bryant is even on the trade block.
The biggest reason why Bryant is on the trade block is due to the stalled contract negotiations in the past. It has been confirmed that the Cubs have made an offer to Bryant in the past but it is unclear what the value of the offer was. Combining the stalled contract negotiations with the fact that the Cubs won’t be able to afford to keep Bryant, Javier Baez, and Anthony Rizzo makes it seem likely that Bryant would be the most logical trade candidate.
That was before the start of the 2021 season. This year, Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer has gone on record in saying that he believes the Cubs will be big spenders again relatively soon. Meaning, assuming the projections stay the same and the Cubs are able to fill Wrigley Field at full capacity by the end of the 2021 season, the Cubs should have the money (p.s. they already do) to sign Bryant to a lucrative contract extension by the end of the season.
Even if the Cubs can afford a Bryant extension, what about the idea that the Cubs can not afford Bryant, Baez, and Rizzo? Again, the Cubs can afford to keep all three but it would appear that the Ricketts family do not want to pay all three.
Rizzo is going to be a Cub for life meaning, the decision is likely between Baez or Bryant? If that is the case, then Bryant is a clear choice. Baez, for all the magical plays he makes on defense, is nowhere near as valuable as Bryant on offense when both are healthy. This year has made that clear when looking at Baez’s offensive value, per Fangraphs, of 2.8. Meanwhile, Bryant has an offensive value of 7.2.
Bryant’s offensive start to the 2021 season has made Cubs fans uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the sense that Bryant’s hot start could signal his time with the Cubs ending much sooner than anticipated. There is one logical way the Chicago Cubs should go about it and that is to extend Kris Bryant.