Blue Jays: The pros and cons of trading for Kris Bryant
There are plenty of good reasons why the Blue Jays might be interested in trading for Kris Bryant, but there are downsides to the idea as well.
That’s true with most trades, but it seems to be especially the case with the former MVP in Chicago. It’s clear that his time with the Cubs is nearing an end even if he ends up playing out the last year of his deal without a trade. However, that seems unlikely, and it’s possible that the Cubs may not even be asking that much for their star third baseman. After all, there were rumours earlier this offseason that they even considered non-tendering him.
That’s because Bryant has a few things going against him, at least in terms of his present day trade value. Despite the fact that he’s a former MVP, a 3x All-Star and still just 29 years old, it’s a legitimate debate whether the Blue Jays should be interested in trading for him right now. However, let’s talk about the good stuff first.
As I’ve already mentioned, Bryant has had a lot of success in his young career to date. He’s been an MVP, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, and a World Series champion. For his career, the Nevada native has slashed .280/.380/.508 and accumulated 24.3 bWAR since his debut in 2015, with a high-point of 7.3 during his MVP campaign the following year.
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Not only would Bryant fill the void at third base for the Blue Jays, he also has the ability to play in the outfielder corners, and at first base. That may not matter so much now, but in the event that the partnership works well and he signed an extension, that leaves infield options available for the likes of Austin Martin or Jordan Groshans. And speaking of which, the fact that Bryant has just one year remaining before he’ll be a free agent wouldn’t be a disaster, in large part because he could buy time for the talented prospects, who could be ready to take over by 2022 anyway.
If the Cubs are more interested in getting his salary off the books than they are in a solid return of prospects, I don’t think Bryant will cost an acquiring team a whole lot in terms of a return.
The downside to Kris Bryant- Is the best already behind him?
As for the downside, there’s no denying that it exists as well, and we may as well start at cost. Bryant will earn 19.5 million during the final year of his arbitration eligibility, which means he won’t come cheap. The Cubs could send some money back in the deal, but that would only increase the ask on their end in terms of prospect capital. As for the idea of taking on the whole amount, the Blue Jays can surely afford to do so, it just might prevent them from spending as much as they should in another area like the starting rotation.
We must also recognize that Bryant is coming off of the worst year of his career, and one that saw him deal with several different ailments. There were back issues during Summer Camp, the wrist and finger sprain in August, and oblique and elbow problems down the stretch. In all his slashed just .206/.293/.351 with four home runs, five doubles, and 11 RBI over just 131 at-bats. The assumption is that he’s healthy again now, but it’s never a great sign when a player starts to struggle with injuries.
It’s also worth questioning whether the Blue Jays should be that high on Bryant given that there are still infield answers on the free agent market. Whether that’s Didi Gregorius, Justin Turner, Tommy La Stella, Andrelton Simmons, Kolton Wong, Marcus Semian or others, the Blue Jays could probably find an alternative without making a trade, and save money at the same time. None of the players above would have the upside of a healthy and rejuvenated Bryant, but they’re not far off, and there’s little guarantee that he’ll provide that anyway. Admittedly it’s an expensive, high-upside option to consider.
At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the cost for the Blue Jays, and/or how the other opportunities shape up. If I were a betting man, I’d guess that Ross Atkins and the front office will go in another direction.