While any list of Winter Meetings predictions is going to be at least a little salacious in nature, you can amp that up a notch when you’re talking about ESPN. Even if the individuals working there uphold the truth as sacrosanct, the editorial direction to break news and be first on the scene is transparent across the organization. That said, you can’t help but raise an eyebrow when their Cubs beat writer predicts a trade with no small measure of specificity.
Under the heading of “biggest trade to go down,” Jesse Rogers predicted that Kris Bryant would be headed to Atlanta in exchange for 25-year-old lefty Max Fried and prospects. ESPN’s Dan Mullen agreed that Bryant was most likely to be traded, but his explanation was more of a basic gut feeling. While he could just be carrying water for the Four-Letter, Rogers is around the team and knows what’s being said. As such, it’s hard to dismiss this outright.
It’s impossible to judge the potential return without naming prospects, but Fried is the kind of pitcher the Cubs covet. He’s a southpaw with mid-90’s stuff and can get strikeouts without walking many, plus he’s under control for four seasons. A former No. 7 overall pick, Fried is arbitration-eligible for the first time and figures to get a decent raise over the $565K he earned in 2019.
In what would be a very unlikely move, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN predicted that Anthony Rizzo would be traded for a “bounty of prospects.” As wild as it sounds that the Cubs would part with Rizzo, you may recall that Jeff Passan tossed his name out there as a possibility in a piece that called the Cubs both “manic” and “motivated.”
Despite having two of their stars mentioned in this piece, with Willson Contreras also featuring prominently in trade rumors elsewhere, the Cubs did not receive a vote for team most likely to be the talk of the meetings. That’s kinda too bad, since winning the baseball lottery by signing Jon Lester in 2015 was the flashing neon sign that the Cubs were finally ready to compete after undergoing a rebuild.
As always, you should have a bucket or two of kosher salt on standby this time of year so that you can appropriately season your rumor filets. That said, the stuff from Rogers is sticking in my craw because I don’t think it’s being made up out of thin air.