Could D-backs swing big this offseason, target Cubs 3B Kris Bryant?
Could the Arizona Diamondbacks capitalize on the Chicago Cubs trading a former MVP?
As speculation grows on Kris Bryant’s potential departure, CBS Sports baseball writer Matt Snyder ranked the third baseman’s best landing spots if he gets traded this offseason. He listed Arizona as the sixth most likely new home.
The D-backs have money to work with going forward.
They unloaded pitcher Zack Greinke’s bloated contract in July, and expensive deals for Yasmany Tomas and Mike Leake end after the 2020 season.
Look at their 2020 commitments:
- Guaranteed contracts (4 players): $20.17 million (via Cot’s Baseball Contracts)
- Arbitration-eligibles (10 players): $50.15 million (via MLB Trade Rumors projections)
- Dead money: $27.33 million (owed to Tomas and Greinke in 2020)
That adds up to $97.65 million for 14 roster players, assuming Tomas spends 2020 in Triple-A again. Assume 12 pre-arbitration players to fill out the roster and the D-Backs are looking at roughly $105 million for their 26-man active roster next year. Injuries happen, of course, so it’ll really be more like $110 million with call-ups and whatnot.
That is roughly $13 million less money on the books for 2020 than at the start of 2019 and the D-backs could shed even more if they non-tender a couple of eligible players like Jake Lamb and/or Steven Souza Jr.
Bryant will make $18.5 million in 2020 before entering his final year of arbitration, and Snyder expects the former MVP to earn around $25 million in 2021.
A trade would set up a lineup with Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Bryant hitting at the top, which is nightmarish for opposing pitchers.
Bryant hit 31 home runs last year and had an OPS of .903. In five major league seasons, he has never had an OPS+ under 121 (league average is 100).
Defensively, it gets a bit tricky, but all three players have experience in multiple positions. Manager Torey Lovullo would just have to see who fits best where in spring training.
Why would the Cubs do this?
Mostly to shake things up.
In the three years since breaking the curse and winning the World Series in 2016, Chicago has been eliminated in the NLCS, lost in the NL Wild Card Game and then missed the postseason.
The Cubs already made a change at manager by replacing Joe Maddon with one of his former players, David Ross. Roster shake-ups could follow.
Bryant has two years of team control left, which is enticing. However, he did file a grievance against the Cubs for manipulating his service time, which would complicate things if he wins. It could lower his value because he would be eligible for free agency before 2021 if he wins, but most Cubs reporters don’t believe this will be the case.
The D-backs have a talented pool of prospects to make a trade for Bryant, especially after dealing Greinke to Houston.
If the Cubs want to retool like Arizona did last season, then the D-backs could throw in some veterans like David Peralta or Robbie Ray, but it seems more likely that Chicago would rather take the top prospects and go after top-tier free agents.
It would be very difficult for the Cubs to add another player of Bryant’s caliber this offseason. But according to the Chicago Sun-Times, contract extension talks have not occurred recently.
That does not mean they won’t happen, but for now, it appears that all options are open.
That then begs the question of whether the timing is right for Arizona.
General manager Mike Hazen swung very team-friendly deals to ink his top two hitters, Marte and Escobar, to long-term contracts. He could see this as a time to strike. The D-backs have an abundance of young arms and could create one of the deepest lineups in the league with the right deal.
But Arizona is already winning after trading multiple franchise icons for young talent. If that is how Hazen plans on continuing to grow, then trading a haul of prospects to Chicago could be out of the question.
Snyder stressed that a Cubs-Bryant divorce seems unlikely but presented good reasons to think that Arizona could be in the mix if it happens.