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ESPN’s Kurkjian believes Cubs’ Kris Bryant would be ‘force’ with D-backs

Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs walks on the field in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the MLB Little League Classic at Bowman Field on August 18, 2019 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo to provide some clarity on the Kris Bryant situation in Chicago.

Bryant, 28, has been an All-Star in three of his five years at third base for the Cubs. His lowest OPS in five years was .834 and he’s coming off an All-Star season of batting .282 with 31 home runs, 77 RBIs and a .903 OPS.

That type of bat would certainly help the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are looking at a significant upgrade in either center field to move Ketel Marte back to second base or at second or third, where they’d keep Marte in the outfield while having Eduardo Escobar at either second or third. The D-backs still have the wiggle room in money remaining to fit Bryant’s $18.6 million salary and have discussed acquiring Bryant, per 98.7 FM’s John Gambadoro.

The key with Bryant is a service-time grievance he has filed to MLB. If Bryant wins the grievance, his contract will go from two years remaining to one.

That changes everything according to Kurkjian, who doesn’t see Bryant getting what he wants in the time being cut down.

“I don’t think he’s going to win the grievance and that’s going to affect how the Cubs look at things, how Bryant looks at things,” he said Tuesday. “I’m not sure when that ruling is coming down but you rarely win something like that.”

Kurkjian believes the difference in that year goes both ways.

If Bryant has only one year left and gets the ruling he wants, that makes it more likely for Chicago to trade him because franchise shortstop Javier Baez also has his contract running out after 2020 and is due for a big deal as well. But that also means the return for the Cubs in a trade would be less, meaning that they’d perhaps not be as accepting of dealing the star third baseman.

If Bryant loses the grievance and still has two years left, that means he has more value and it’s a bigger trade package the Cubs could receive.

“This is where the Cubs have to look at it, and even though I think they will keep him if they get him for two more years, this would also be the best time to trade him,” Kurkjian said.

Kurkjian described is as a “difficult decision” for the Cubs, but what is not difficult is how good Bryant would be with the D-backs.

“I think he would be a force in that lineup,” Kurkjian said.

Bryant, though, is obviously going to be a popular name on the trade market. The Atlanta Braves have already reportedly had conversations with the Cubs and aren’t done having them.


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