In the wake of an 11 game losing streak, the Chicago Cubs have finally come to the realization that the glory days are over and it’s time to reset. Ever since their curse breaking championship in 2016, the team’s futility of the past has seemed to return. After squeaking by the Nationals in the NLDS in 2017 and stealing a game in the NLCS from LA, the North Siders have not even managed to win a playoff game, losing in the NL Central Tiebreaker and the NL Wild Card Game on consecutive days in their home park in 2018. The late season collapse returned in 2019 as Chicago lost 10 of their final 12 games to drop the division to the Cardinals. Although they returned to the playoffs in the abbreviated 2020 season, the Cubs were swept out by the miracle Marlins. And now sitting in fourth place in the division as the deadline approaches, it seems Jed Hoyer has finally come to his senses as reports have surfaced recently of the Cubs committing to selling, with Joc Pederson already gone. And with star player Kris Bryant set to be a free agent after this year, there is no good reason for the Cubs to not at least try to get something for him. Considering Bryant’s career especially his current play which sees him hitting .268 with 17 homers and 50 RBI’s entering the final week of July, Chicago would be foolish not to take advantage of his value which has reached its highest point since 2016. So with the former MVP enjoying arguably his best season since 2016, the time is now to capitalize on his value for the Cubbies. Here are the most likely trade candidates for Kris Bryant and what it would take to get him.
Don’t get too far ahead of yourselves Brewers fans. The Cubs trading one of their franchise cornerstones to a division rival is beyond unlikely. Milwaukee has taken advantage of a division without a clear front runner as they lead the NL Central by 7 games. Like another Kris Bryant suitor who will be mentioned later, the Brewers have won games on the mound this year as Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta all hold sub 2.50 ERA’s while Devin Williams and Josh Hader have been outright dominant in the 8th and 9th innings. Despite the ridiculous arsenal of arms the Brew Crew have, the lineup has lacked explosiveness. While Willy Adames has been a spark since coming from Tampa and Omar Narvaez has enjoyed a breakout season, franchise superstar Christian Yelich has not performed in the 62 games he’s been on the field for as he has just 6 home runs at a .244 clip. While everyday third baseman Luis Urias has been an average bat with a plus glove, adding a player of Kris Bryant’s caliber would make this team one of the most well rounded in baseball. With Urias at third and Yelich in left, the Brewers could use Bryant at another position of need, first base. While Milwaukee could consider trading Urias for Bryant to keep him at third, the Brewers could have an easier time prying Bryant up north by moving him across the diamond. In fact, when Bryant first came up with the Cubs in 2015, it was to play first base while Anthony Rizzo was hurt. While Bryant hasn’t manned that side of the diamond since then, he would certainly be an upgrade over Daniel Vogelbach who has not performed on either side of the ball on the right side and Milwaukee would benefit from him as a 7th inning pinch hitter more than an everyday starter. The one problem for the Brewers that would stop them from getting Bryant would be the in-division factor. The Cubs see the Brewers often and if Bryant were to re-sign in Milwaukee should he be traded there, the Cubs might live to regret it for years. If Milwaukee wants Kris Bryant, it’s gonna be a high price tag.
Brewers Likely Deal: Brewers acquire Kris Bryant|Cubs acquire Keston Hiura, Ethan Small, Patrick Weigel
San Francisco Giants
The feel good story of the 2021 MLB season, the San Francisco Giants enter the last week of July with the best record in the majors at 61-37. Lead by top tier pitching and timely hitting, Gabe Kapler’s squad has shocked the world and has put San Francisco in position to win their first division crown in nine years. New additions Kevin Gausman and Anthony DeSclafani have been one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball this season at the helm of the rotation with a solid bullpen unit behind them. In the lineup, the franchise stalwarts in Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey have been the spearheads with Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrezmski and Wilmer Flores being steady options. The one issue with this Giants lineup though, is that it lacks that star player who teams would pitch around to avoid the big bat. This deadline season, there is no better or bigger bat than Bryant available. Since Wilmer Flores has held down third base at a quality level this season, the Giants would be able to move Bryant into the outfield and replace Austin Slater in center to give the team that intimidating guy in the middle of the lineup. With 5 top 100 prospects, the Giants could certainly make a deal happen. But what would make San Francisco a difficult trade partner for the Cubs is the age of their current roster. Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey are both 34 years old with top 20 prospects in Marco Luciano and Joey Bart primed to take their place soon. While the Giants would have the money to re-sign KB, giving up one of their two top prospects for a possible rental with their times in the majors coming would not make sense. Instead, the Giants would have to give up a major league talent, along with prospects. To keep ahead of the Dodgers and Padres in the stretch run, the Giants have no choice but to bolster their lineup and with sufficient assets to grab a guy hitting .268 with 17 dingers, acquiring the former MVP would do just that.
Most Likely Deal: Giants acquire Kris Bryant|Cubs acquire Mauricio Dubon, Heliot Ramos, Sean Hjelle
Chicago White Sox
Another possible team in which Bryant’s prowess with the stick and versatility in the field would greatly benefit come in the Cubs crosstown rivals. The Chicago White Sox, ravaged by injuries all season, would love to stick another impact bat in their order. With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert on the sidelines for the forseable future, Bryant, with a .268/17/50 stat line this year would certainly fill that void left behind by injuries. The former MVP would most likely become a full time outfielder across town at least until the team gets healthy, unless Tony La Russa chooses to focus on Bryant’s bat as a DH. While the Pale Hosers likely couldn’t re-sign Bryant once he becomes a free agent this winter, the White Sox could be an ideal spot for a rental as the South Siders have emerged as one of the favorites to take the AL pennant. A move like this would give Chicago the most well rounded lineup in the American League, not to mention two Cy Young candidates in Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon int he rotation. The White Sox have plentiful assets to make a deal happen with the Cubs as their once top farm system has churned out quality MLB prospects. One of these players, right handed pitcher Dylan Cease, would be perfect for Chicago as they look to stock up on young arms. If the White Sox could make a deal for Bryant centered around their various league ready prospects, the South Side could come out of the deadline as the team to beat in the AL.
White Sox Likely Deal: White Sox acquire Kris Bryant|Cubs acquire Dylan Cease, Gavin Sheets, Hunter Schryver
New York Mets
The best trade fit for Bryant comes in the New York Mets who have had to juggle Jonathan Villar and Luis Guillorme at the hot corner this year as usual starter J.D. Davis has just returned to the lineup having been out since April. Defensively challenged but offensively skilled, Davis was a key piece to New York’s success in the second half of 2019 but has become expendable with the Mets depth at the position and Davis’ glaring flaws as a fielder in a league without the DH. With the Mets holding a 4 game lead in the NL East as of July 25th, but scoring just 378 runs this year (second to last in the league) this team needs a kick in the lineup. Considering New York’s offensive desperation to back a pitching staff that has been elite in 2021, the Mets know that they really are just one big bat away from really becoming a playoff team. Steve Cohen has shown he is not hesitant to pull the trigger on a big name and would be wise to take advantage of the injuries to Kyle Schwarber and Ronald Acuña in the division. And with Francisco Lindor now succumbing to the IL, the need for a big time hitter in Queens is more alarming than it already was. By acquiring Bryant, the Mets would ignite a sleeping lineup and set themselves apart from the rest of the struggling NL East. Overall, the Mets are the team that need Kris Bryant the most both in the box and on the field and if New York pulls the trigger on him, they could give themselves a platform to leap off of in the second half with their new third baseman and their stars returning from injury.
Mets Likely Deal: Mets acquire Kris Bryant|Cubs acquire J.D. Davis, Tylor Megill, Mark Vientos
Image: On Tap Sports Net