Over the last few weeks, as the Chicago Cubs have moved from playoff contender to obvious seller, third baseman Kris Bryant has become arguably the best player who is likely to change teams before the MLB trade deadline.
Since Bryant will be a free agent this winter and isn’t going to give the Cubs a hometown discount to stay in Chicago, the Cubs would be foolish not to deal him. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s bounced back from a rough 2020 campaign and is performing at a rate that’s more in line with his career numbers. Of course, that means that a lot of teams are going to be interested in trading for him.
Let’s run down each team’s chances of pulling off a trade for Bryant before the deadline.
Atlanta Braves: 15%
If you thought the injury to Ronald Acuna would sink the Braves, think again.
Atlanta was proactive in trading for Joc Pederson to help them stay afloat. The problem is that the Braves have lost Acuna, Marcell Ozuna, and Travis d’Arnaud this year, so they need a lot more than Pederson.
The Braves need another impact bat, which is why they are a serious candidate for Bryant. With Austin Riley having a breakout year, Atlanta would use Bryant’s flexibility to play in the outfield, essentially replacing Ozuna in left field and serving as protection for Freddie Freeman.
As one of the preseason favorites in the National League, the Braves are probably feeling a little pressure to do whatever it takes to win the NL East, so they might be aggressive in going after Bryant.
Milwaukee Brewers: 10%
Despite an uptick in their offense recently, the Brewers need to improve their lineup considerably if they’re going to be a threat in October.
Travis Shaw is on the IL for the long term, so Bryant would fit in nicely at third base. Milwaukee could also shift things around easily if and when Shaw returns. The question is whether the Brewers will be that aggressive knowing that their pitching is leading the way. They also have a fairly comfortable lead atop the NL Central.
Plus, would the Cubs want to send Bryant to their rivals from the north?
New York Mets: 15%
In theory, the Mets are the most likely team in the National League to make a big splash at the trade deadline. However, New York’s offense has finally started to come alive and live up to expectations coming out of the All-Star break.
Also, with J.D. Davis back from injury and Francisco Lindor sidelined, shortstop is more of a need, although pitching is what the Mets really need. That being said, the Mets have been talking to the Cubs about Bryant since last offseason, so the Mets probably have a good idea of what it’ll take to land Bryant.
Philadelphia Phillies: 10%
The Phillies are definitely in hang-around mode and they will undoubtedly view the Mets as vulnerable in the NL East. That division is tight enough for one big trade acquisition to make a difference in the end.
With young third baseman Alec Bohm having a disappointing season and now on the IL, trading for Bryant as a rental makes a lot of sense for Philadelphia. For a team that's barely hovering around .500, it would be a bold move to trade prospects for a rental like Bryant, but not impossible for the Phillies to fathom.
San Francisco Giants: 15%
Few could have predicted the Giants would be leading the NL West this late in the season. But with their pitching leading the way, San Francisco is a serious contender. The catch is they need to add to their lineup, especially with so many veterans on the IL right now. The Giants still don’t know when Evan Longoria will be back at third base, so there’s an opening at that position.
Again, Bryant’s ability to also play the corner outfield spots will make it easy to shift things around when Longoria returns. Plus, whether it’s third base or the outfield, the Giants need a right-handed bat in the middle of the order to complement all of their left-handed hitters.
In terms of need and fit, Bryant going to the Giants makes the most sense.
Toronto Blue Jays: 10%
The Blue Jays are lingering on the periphery of the playoff race, although they are just 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, putting them in a great position.
To be fair, Toronto’s needs at the deadline are more pitching than hitting. But having a veteran bat to complement Toronto’s youth does make a lot of sense. The Blue Jays also have the DH at their disposal along with four other positions that Bryant can play, so they will have no problem finding a spot for him in an already stacked lineup.
Washington Nationals: 10%
If the Nationals are going to stay in the playoff race, they have to do something drastic. There are also reports indicating that Washington has an interest in acquiring Bryant rather than trying to trade away the team’s star players at the deadline.
At this point, the Nats must assume that Starling Castro isn’t going to be back in 2021, leaving them with a big hole to fill at third base. And putting Bryant behind Juan Soto would change the shape of Washington’s lineup. It may not make the Nats the favorites in the NL East, but it would give the 2019 World Series champs a fighting chance to get back to the postseason.
The Field: 15%
Frankly, there isn’t a team that’s still in the playoff race that wouldn’t want Bryant, which means there are a lot of teams that aren’t among the favorites to land Bryant that could still make a play for him.
If the Cleveland Indians wanted to make a serious push this year, the Indians would need to add an impact bat at the deadline. Given their recent injuries, the Yankees could find themselves calling the Cubs. The Dodgers probably don’t need Bryant, but they also need to overcome the Giants in the NL West. The same can be said of the Red Sox, who are trying to hold on in the AL East. Even the A’s and Mariners shouldn’t be counted out just yet. In other words, we have no idea where Bryant will end up at the end of July, but it won’t be in Chicago.
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