The Chicago Cubs will be sellers at the MLB trade deadline, and rumors are focused around the future of Kris Bryant. Just a few years after playing a crucial role in a World Series title, the All-Star slugger will likely be playing elsewhere on July 31.
After a hot start to the season, Chicago is open to moving any of its stars on expiring deals. While Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez are both trade candidates, Bryant is widely viewed as the player most likely to be dealt by July 30.
The return won’t be as strong as some fans hope, with recent returns for half-season rentals on the decline. But we’ll examine a few realistic trade scenarios for Chicago’s star hitter.
The San Francisco Giants are one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season. Thanks to phenomenal pitching and rejuvenated seasons from key veterans, San Francisco sits atop the NL West and looks like a legitimate contender. But if this team wants to beat a healthy version of the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, it needs more.
Evan Longoria was doing a fine job at third base, posting a .892 OPS and 1.6 fWAR before suffering a shoulder injury. While the 35-year-old could return in August, the risk of a setback is always higher with older players. Even if he does return, there are other ways to get Bryant’s bat in the lineup.
Versatility is incredibly valuable to San Francisco, and it’s why the front office should be interested in Bryant. He demonstrates the ability to play first base, or he can start in any of the three outfield spots. Plus, for a team that plans to spend heavily this winter, Bryant’s contract won’t affect the Giants’ long-term payroll flexibility.
The New York Mets’ interest in Bryant isn’t a secret. Even with the likes of J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto returning from the injured list, New York is searching for ways to improve its lineup. With an owner willing to take on money in pursuit of a World Series, this is a natural fit.
Bryant might see a majority of his time at third base, shifting Jonathan Villar either to shortstop or a utility role. New York would be taking a bit of a risk here, given his .548 OPS and 53 wRC+ since June 1. But the talent is undeniable, and the lineup flexibility he would also provide is significant when also factoring in the Mets’ misfortune with injuries.
As for the return, the Mets can justify it. Pete Crow-Armstrong offers tantalizing talent, but the COVID-19 pandemic ruined him in 2020 and season-ending shoulder surgery this year cost him crucial development time. In pursuit of a championship, trading PCA and a few depth pieces is worth it.
MLB teams shouldn’t be picky when it comes to trading a rental away. Sending Bryant to the Milwaukee Brewers helps a divisional foe, but the Chicago Cubs need to consider all options. Considering the Brewers’ needs at the corner infield spots, this is a potential landing spot.
This should also be an attractive option for Bryant. Not only could he get some revenge against his former club, but a move to Miller Park might help boost his numbers. He would also join a competitive team that has a realistic shot at winning the NL Central and making a run in the MLB playoffs.
Feliciano is an expendable prospect for a contender, and Lutz’s future outlook in Milwaukee doesn’t look promising. With this trade, the Cubs land three players who could contribute for them in 2022.