The Rundown: Red Sox Reportedly Showed Interest in Kris Bryant, Jed Hoyer Takes Reins, Plenty of Hot Stove Rumors

For a guy who has never been traded, Kris Bryant sure pops up in a lot of rumors both past and present. Yesterday it was reported that the Cubs and Red Sox engaged in trade talks centering on Chicago’s third baseman over the summer.

It’s tough to understand how that rumor makes sense for either team. The Cubs were competing for the NL Central title at the time and, though their 13-3 start was followed by a month and a half of mediocrity and a quick exit from the postseason, you can’t win the World Series without first getting to the playoffs. At the same time, Boston was suffering one of its worst seasons in recent memory, so acquiring Bryant would only make sense if they intend to compete with the Rays, Yankees, and Blue Jays for the AL East crown in 2021.

Plus, the Red Sox had recently traded Mookie Betts in the final year of his contract because their front office feared they could not afford to sign him. The 2020 Red Sox seem like a model of sorts for the current state of the Cubs, which is to say they have a number of good-but-not-great players who appear to be aging faster than they should with roster holes bigger than they appear on the surface.

When Boston traded Betts in February, they got back Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs. They would presumably give up much less to acquire Bryant, which would make it little more than a salary dump for the Cubs. It’s also possible Chaim Bloom thinks the Red Sox are closer to contending then the rest of us. Executives with historically successful franchises often refuse to accept seasons that offer little to no hope.

Most smart baseball people believe Bryant will bounce back, but after dealing with Dustin Pedroia for the last few seasons, it seems hard to imagine that an oft-injured player like Bryant would or could be a cornerstone for a ’21 playoff run in Beantown. And though the Red Sox do have Rafael Devers at third, he’s atrocious in the field and seems better suited for DH.

Bryant does have ties to Boston through his father, Mike, a Medford, MA native who played ball at UMass-Lowell before being drafted by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 1980 amateur draft. The elder Bryant is also a proponent of the Ted Williams book The Science of Hitting.

Regardless, Cubs can’t reasonably expect much in return if they do move their third baseman. The Braves are always mentioned as potential trade partners and the Nationals have reportedly shown interest in Bryant this winter and last, too. If the Cubs believe they can get one or both of Victor Robles and Carter Kieboom from Washington, a trade with Boston might net Jed Hoyer someone like Bobby Dalbec and/or Jay Groome. That said, Hoyer may be better off keeping Bryant while hoping his current roster has one last good run left.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Just in case you need one more reason to hate the 1969 Mets.

Tuesday Stove

It appears that the Rays are making starter Blake Snell available to other teams, including those in their own division, with the Mariners and Angels both interested in acquiring the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner.

After having his $15 million option turned down by the Rays, Charlie Morton has agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves for that same amount.

The Reds are reportedly making Sonny Gray available in trade and are currently gauging interest in the right-handed starter.

The Red Sox are showing strong interest in free agent Yankees starter J.A. Happ. The lefty, who turned 38 in October, posted a 3.47 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP in nine starts for New York in 2020. He held the opposition to a .208 batting average.

The Rockies may once again be exploring the market for third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Evaluators are saying that Orioles prospect Adley Rutschman is already one of the best catchers in baseball.

The Mets have abandoned their search for a president of baseball operations and will instead focus on landing a GM.

MLB has rescheduled the White Sox-Yankees Field of Dream Game for August 12.

Indians manager Terry Francona is recovering from significant health problems, but proclaimed himself fit enough to resume his duties in 2021.

Baseball executive and former manager Jack McKeon, who helped engineer playoff defeats of the Cubs in 1984 (Padres) and 2003 (Marlins), turned 90 yesterday.

Jason Varitek indicated he’d like to manage a big league club in the future.

Extra Innings

“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” – Arthur Carlson (played by actor Gordon Jump)

If you haven’t seen the 1978 Thanksgiving episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, I implore you to do so.

They Said It

  • “I don’t look at it as following [Theo Epstein]. I’ve been here the whole time. If you think about it as following a Hall of Fame executive, that can be daunting. If you look at as following your mentor, after having been part of it for nine years, that’s probably a better way to view the experience.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “We face a new challenge imposed by the reality of our player service time and the realities of our world in 2020. As with all the challenges we have faced here, we will study them, we will use our collective experience, and then we will move boldly to do what is in the best interest of the Cubs.” – Hoyer
  • “If people think of him as Theo’s guy, I think that would be an incredible compliment. [Epstein] is a Hall of Famer. You don’t get to be ‘Theo’s guy’ unless you are really good yourself. Jed can hang with [him] because he can match him intellectually, he can think quickly on his feet [and] he has the empathy to relate to everyone [from] baseball operations [to the] players. He can take feedback and do something with it, he can navigate difficult conversations, and he can do all of that without needing credit.” – Ben Cherington
  • “If there was GM draft, Jed would be a first-rounder.” – Unnamed Player Agent

Tuesday Walk Up Song

With a Little Luck by Paul McCartney & Wings – Likely in heavy rotation on ‘KRP back in 1978.

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