Poor Kris Bryant. Year after year he is subject to the same tired trade rumors, whether it’s the Nationals or Braves, or some team-to-be-named-later. The return value on said rumors is usually shockingly low, which is followed by those fans in the trade-Bryant faction attempting to justify the potential pennies-on-the-dollar return.
- “He’s often injured.”
- “Constantly fails with runners in scoring position.”
- “Never gets a big hit when the Cubs need one.”
- “He’s greedy, and should have taken the $200 million when Theo offered it to him.”**
- “Overrated and a poor fielder.”
- “Regresses year after year. Anther development failure by the team’s front office and coaching staff.”
** This is a false narrative, and no such extension offer ever existed.
I hope Bryant and his family resist the urge to read those types of comments. The only reason Jed Hoyer should trade his third baseman is if the two sides cannot agree on an extension. Even then, it would make a lot more sense to wait until the July 31 deadline. After last season, Bryant can only improve his value.
The former rookie of the year and league MVP is one of the hottest topics here at Cubs Insider and at many other baseball sites, both in professional media and the blogosphere. Truthfully, I’m tired of reading and writing about it so why don’t we just stop the madness? Hoyer tried, though his attempt to slow the speculative roll was as mild-mannered as the president of baseball operations often appears in public.
“I think that’s been treated as a certainty,” Jed Hoyer said of a potential trade while addressing the media after the Winter Meetings. “Listen, Kris is a great player — he’s a superstar player — that obviously didn’t have the year last year that he had hoped. But when you look at our offense, there were several other players that had similar struggles.”
“I don’t think it should be treated as a fait accompli that [a trade is] going to happen.”
Sigh. I hate that phrase.
Bryant’s agent, the garrulous Scott Boras, who is definitely a more bulls-by-the-balls speaker when given a microphone, added more perspective.
“The Cubs know KB very well…[and] they have great plans for him.”
“That question [of a Bryant trade or extension] probably will be very clearly addressed at the end of ‘21,” he continued. “Because we’re going to know a lot more about what Jed wants to do, and also about the continuance of Bryant’s excellence in a baseball uniform.”
Boras suggested they believe there’s a strong chance the Cubs hold onto Kris Bryant and defended his Covid shortened 2020 performance, pointing out he’s posted big numbers — a .900 plus OPS — whenever he’s gotten 550 at-bats.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2020
The bottom line is that, like his predecessor, Hoyer is not likely to sell disgustingly low on his potentially best offensive weapon. Do you think he really wants to watch Bryant have a monstrous year in our nation’s capital while the team’s coaching staff tries to fix even more holes in a failed prospect’s game? As Cubs fans, do we really want to see Carter Kieboom as Bryant’s replacement? Why would you want that? His best full season may never even match Bryant at his worst.
If your answer is “something is better than nothing” I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Chicago would be better off letting their third baseman walk away for nothing. When a team moves players in trade, the deliverable has to do one of two things:
- Make the team better this year at a position of deficiency.
- Improve the farm system.
It’s not about money, so don’t go there. The Cubs have already invested nearly $45 million in the third-sacker, not including his signing bonus. You don’t cut your losses with a bargain basement sale in the final year of team control just to avoid having to pay a premium player a premium one-year salary. Remember when we all worried that Bryant might be granted free agency a year early? What is the point in trading him for a pull-tab raffle ticket or two? There are better ways to balance that ledger.
If and when Bryant leaves, the Cubs will have a huge hole to fill at third base. Hoyer knows that, as does everybody in baseball. I’d say the chances of Bryant re-signing are therefore a little stronger than a trade.
Oh, one last thing, if you don’t mind. I noticed last year that pitchers seemed to be a little quicker to the plate when Bryant stood in the box. The third baseman blinks quite a bit, so that’s a sound strategy. I’m no hitting coach, but it seems to me that KB needs to better control those confrontations by stepping out at times. Perhaps all he needs is one additional exhale per at-bat to better focus and reverse last year’s ugly season.
Cubs News & Notes
- Most of the Cubs news of the past 24 hours is focused on whether or not Bryant will be traded and whether or not the Nationals have any interest. I believe I have properly addressed that.
- Boras was complimentary of Hoyer and indicated that the new president of baseball operations is well-equipped to run the Cubs.
- I rarely link to competitive blogs, but Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation has a nice write up today that suggests, based on a radio interview with Jesse Rogers of ESPN 1000, that the Cubs may be more likely to trade Yu Darvish than Bryant.
- Jon Morosi mentioned on MLB Network yesterday that the Cubs and free agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. could be a good fit.
Odds & Sods
One would think this will hurt any chance Omar Vizquel has of getting into the Hall of Fame (Twitter link is to subscriber-only content).
Omar Vizquel under investigation for allegations of domestic abuse.
"He's not the person you see."
— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) December 16, 2020
The league and franchise owners would like to delay the start of the 2021 season, though the MLBPA has other ideas.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said that though the Nationals have had a quiet winter, they are in build-now mode.
New Mets GM Jared Porter could have had a career as a professional hockey player.
After failing to purchase the Mets, Álex Rodríguez is taking a swing at another flailing business entity.
Besides the Cubs, the Phillies and Blue Jats are said to be interested in signing Bradley, Jr.
Boras really needs a lounge act, and the more he speaks, the more I am reminded of Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta in the movie Raging Bull after the boxer retired.
Scott Boras' metaphor game was in top form Tuesday when discussing Kris Bryant.
"Sometimes you get water in your boat."
"Focus on the frosting rather than the cake."
"When you have Star Wars, then who best to handle it than the Jedi?"https://t.co/WveI3hUm2j
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) December 16, 2020
They Said It
- “[Kris Bryant] has definitely come up in conversations. He’s definitely a premier player in this league.” – Dave Martinez
- “We haven’t had a serious conversation about Kris Bryant in probably two years. He was not a big guy on our radar last year or this year. He’s a great player, but at this point and [with] where we’re at, and what we have in our farm system, and where we’re going, we think we can allocate dollars and prospect capital another way.” – Mike Rizzo
- “Here we go again.” – Willson Contreras
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Hurricane by Bob Dylan – I truly believe the much-maligned Bryant will bust out this season. Be patient, Cubs fans.