As mundane and obvious as this report seems given discussions we’ve had here or over on The Rant Live, it comes as a small ray of positivity in light of all the rumors swirling about Yu Darvish. Somewhat hidden at the end of Bruce Levine’s piece about Darvish is a little blurb about the team’s efforts to trade Kris Bryant.
The Cubs have had conversations, writes Levine, which is something I think we’re all very well aware of by now. He adds that the Cubs may move Bryant for a “strong package,” also not a novel concept by any means. It’s unlikely such a deal will materialize prior to the start of the season because Bryant is set to earn about $20 million and he’s coming off of a campaign in which finger and wrist injuries severely hampered his performance.
That’s on top of the two previous seasons, each of which saw Bryant get out to scorching starts before shoulder and knee injuries curtailed his production. A lot of people mistakenly attribute any statistical falloff to Bryant’s approach, but it’s very obvious when looking closely that getting hurt is the sole cause. Injuries can’t just be dismissed because you can’t take a player’s health for granted, but I think it’s safe to say professional talent evaluators understand the situation better than most fans.
Even so, MLB’s economic environment is such that teams simply aren’t going to pony up big-time prospects for one year of control at a high cost unless and until Bryant can prove he’s healthy. That means the Cubs would be moving Bryant solely to save money, but Levine writes that paying down a big chunk of Bryant’s 2021 salary “has been a non-starter for the Cubs.”
Makes sense, right? If the Cubs have resigned themselves to trading Bryant, they should at least try to get something in return. Even if the savings aren’t as great by waiting for the deadline, at least they’ve got a shot at leveraging a bigger haul while still trimming a little payroll. They’re already well under both actual and competitive balance tax figures from the past two seasons, so aggressively cutting costs at the expense of the future isn’t necessary.