Blue Jays: Why it’s worth calling the Cubs about Kris Bryant

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 26: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs hits a grand slam in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 26, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 26: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs hits a grand slam in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 26, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays could use an upgrade at third base, and Kris Bryant might be available from the Cubs. It’s an imperfect fit, but still one worth exploring.

For those who might have had enough of the Francisco Lindor rumours lately, I’d like to present an idea that hasn’t come up much in the rumour mill yet.

The Blue Jays are in need of an upgrade at third base for the 2021 season, although they could also elect to add the best available infielder they can, and adjust others like Cavan Biggio and maybe Bo Bichette accordingly. However, as I scan all of the options that are on the free agent market, and those that could be made available via trade, only a handful of names stand out as true impact upgrades. And as much as it would come with several gambles, I’m intrigued enough by the idea of trading for Kris Bryant that I think it’s worth talking about.

To start with, I’ll admit that there are several downsides here. First of all, Bryant is due to be a free agent at the end of the 2021 season, and it’s hard to imagine him signing an extension ahead of time. He’s gone through quite ordeal with his MLB service time, even filing an appeal against the Cubs and eventually losing, and it’s possible that he’ll choose free agency regardless of what’s presented to him. There’s also the fact that Bryant was injured for much of last season, and he only ended up slashing .206.293/.351 with four home runs and and 11 RBI in 34 games.

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However, you don’t write off a player of Bryant’s calibre after just 34 games, and it’s a pretty safe bet that as long as he’s healthy in 2021, he’ll be at least an above average contributor. He won’t be 29 until January, so there should be several years of his prime remaining, and we’re talking about a 3x All-Star and former NL MVP.

There are a few things I like about the idea of trading for Bryant, even more so than someone like Lindor. They’re both on expiring contracts, but there’s a distinct difference in how their current clubs view them. Cleveland will be looking for a prospect haul to give up Lindor’s services, but I’m not sure it’ll take the same to acquire Bryant from Chicago. Both clubs are reportedly looking to slash some payroll this winter, and there was even some chatter on Twitter last week that the Cubs might consider designating Kris Bryant for assignment rather than pay what will likely be a very high salary. That was an overreaction to the situation, but he was slated to make 18.6 million in 2020 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic shortening the season, and he’ll get at least that next season when he goes into his fourth trip through the arbitration process. Add it all up, and the acquisition cost could be very reasonable if the Cubs are serious about getting his salary off the books, and depending on how many others bidders are involved.

As for the fit, I like the idea of Bryant with the Blue Jays’ young core both in the short and long term. For now he could fill the hole at third base while making the middle of the lineup even more dangerous. If in time there others that need to fit into the infield equation like Austin Martin, Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, or Miguel Hiraldo, Bryant is a capable and experienced corner outfielder. We know that flexibility is something that the Blue Jays have been fond of for a long time, and it would certainly help for this potential match.

Next. Why there's no room for Vlad Jr. at third base. dark

Of course, just because a fit makes sense doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. That said, I hope Ross Atkins has at least called the Cubs and kicked the tires on the idea. If the Cubbies are looking to kickstart a rebuilding process, there could be a worthwhile dealing waiting to happen, and the fire would work pretty well.

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