You thought we were done with this in the winter. But oh no, fucko…
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) August 28, 2019
You may remember we went through all this in the offseason, when Theo Epstein said that they would listen to any offer for any player, which basically meant that if the Angels offered Mike Trout to the Cubs for Bryant, they’d have to take that seriously. Most people took it to mean the Cubs were actively shopping Bryant, which was hardly the case. In reality this is a great way to get eyeballs on your article, which is the name of the game these days.
I want to believe this is the same thing, and it likely is. Whatever my complaints about Theo and Jed Hoyer’s latest work, in no way are they now stupid enough to believe they can get anything more than 75 cents on the dollar in a trade for Bryant. One, no team would ever trade three good players on their roster for Bryant, and if they would those three players would not equal one Kris Bryant.
Second, any trade for any kind of “futures,” even if those futures are right on the cusp of the majors, would essentially be punting the next two seasons or more, which is not where the Cubs are. Because the main problem with trading Kris Bryant is that you no longer have Kris Bryant. Again, I don’t know how often and how much I have to stress this, there are only like two or three or four players that fill in the gap of Bryant–Trout, Bellinger, Betts, and we’ll throw Yelich on there, except Bryant has been Yelich-good for longer.
The real issue is that if the Cubs let Bryant walk or move him because they won’t sign him to what he deserves, you should turn in your fandom forever and raise a giant middle finger to the Ricketts Family (though we all probably should have already, but that’s life as a fan).
The fear within the walls of Wrigley, if they even rise to fears, is that Scott Boras has decided to make them an example of what will happen when you tinker with service time when a player is coming up, and we’ll take Bryant away to exact his revenge. This is utter bullshit, because Boras clients just take the best offer that’s out there. Or maybe they think Bryant himself has his heart set on leaving to go be a Dodger or Angel or Diamondback, something closer to home. Again, I’ve never heard anyone suggest this, but it’s the kind of thing you can convince yourself of if you’re trying to rationalize not paying him.
There’s always been a doomsday scenario with the Cubs in 2021, leading in to the 2022 season. Anthony Rizzo, Bryant, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber all will be free agents. If everything went according to plan, it could cost north of $100M to keep four players. Of course, Lester’s salary will be off the books by then, though you’d definitely still be stuck with Heyward. And we know how miserly the Ricketts family has already gotten. Also, Epstein’s contract is up at the same time, and he may just decide he’s taillights.
However, even speculating on what ownership is going to want to do, or can do, is kind of folly, because the CBA expires the same season. We have no idea what the luxury tax system will work, even if there will be one, if there will even be baseball considering there very well might be a strike, and an arduous one. Trading Bryant because of fear of a salary in a system you can’t possibly predict would be the height of idiocy.
At the end of the day, you don’t just produce Kris Bryants. They’re generational talents, and that’s why we call them that. If he costs $35M, or $40M a year, you pay him and figure out the rest. The Angels figured that out with Trout. The Dodgers certainly will in time with Bellinger. The Red Sox will be sorry when they don’t with Betts (I suppose I have some time for a Betts-for-Bryant deal, but if the Sox don’t want to pay Mookie they’re not paying Bryant, and vice versa).
This is utter nonsense, and it will be if the Cubs actually listen and consider it. Thank you for your time.