The Chicago Cubs are believed to be shopping third baseman Kris Bryant to some degree. The Milwaukee Brewers need a franchise third baseman, but do they have enough in their system to even get on the phone for Bryant?
Kris Bryant is expected to know if his grievance against the Chicago Cubs will put him a year closer to free agency or not in the next few weeks. It’s widely believed that the Cubs could ramp up trade talks for Bryant if he only has two more years of team control. Is there any chance that Brewers GM David Stearns can even get the Cubs on the phone to discuss a deal?
Why did Bryant file a grievance?
Bryant filed a grievance after the 2015 season that alleged that the Cubs intentionally manipulated his service time to get an extra year of team control.
Bryant started the 2015 season in Triple-A, but he was called up on April 17th. The Cubs ‘starting’ third baseman, Mike Olt, suffered an injury on April 11th, but the team waited a week to add Bryant to the 25-man roster.
Had Bryant been added on April 16th, he would reach free agency after the 2020 season. As it stands now, he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.
How could the outcome of the grievance impact a trade?
If Bryant wins the grievance, he becomes a free agent a year earlier. If he loses, the team that acquires Bryant would have him for two years of control. There’s a big difference between a player essentially on a one-year deal, and a player with two years of control remaining.
Is Bryant still an MVP-caliber player?
He’s close, but he’s not quite the force of nature that he was from 2015-to-2017.
Bryant played 147 games last year and managed a .282/.382/.521 slash line. He clubbed 31 homers, stole four bases in four attempts, scored 108 times, and drove in 77 runs. The 4.8 WAR that he generated last year was awesome, but it’s not at the same level of the 7.9 WAR he posted in 2016.
Bryant never hit the Injured List in 2019, but he did deal with neck, ankle, and knee issues at different times last year. He missed a lot of time in 2018 with a left shoulder injury in 2018.
Could the Brewers use Bryant?
Ryon Healy is currently penciled in as the Opening Day starter at third base, so, yes, the Brewers could use Bryant.
Do the Brewers have enough to add Bryant?
Any deal that gets made would depend on the outcome of the grievance, but the Brewers seem to have enough on paper to at least start a conversation.
Any trade package that the Brewers could possibly offer for Bryant starts with closer Josh Hader. Hader won’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season, and would have to be the centerpiece of any offer that Milwaukee could make.
Is there any chance of a deal between the Cubs & Brewers?
There’s always a chance, but the odds are fairly low that the two division rivals come together for a blockbuster deal involving franchise cornerstones.
The Cubs would likely ask for Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura as a key part of any deal for Bryant, and it’s highly doubtful that Stearns would be willing to part with Hader and Hiura in the same deal to a divisional rival.
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The Brewers don’t have a ton of top prospects in their farm system, but they do have trade chips that could interest a team looking to deal a superstar. Hader has been at the center of trade rumors with the Yankees for most of the off season, and should be at the center of any deal the teams makes to add an impact player.