The Rundown: Bryant Rumors May Signal Short-Term Rebuild, Cubs’ Farm System Ranked Decade’s 4th Best, Cards May Reunite with Ozuna
“It takes two to make a thing go right…”
“It takes two to make it outta sight…” – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock
When white men of a certain age want to quote hip hop, ‘It Takes Two’ is as warm and comforting as a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese. I’m not sure that’s something the rap duo responsible for it probably wants to hear, but they made some serious coin with that song so who cares? It’s one of those songs that is universally loved, with an ageless popularity among old and new fans alike. The hook and chorus create a true earworm; you hear it once, and it stays with you for days at a time.
Kris Bryant trade rumors have been persistent little critters of their own this winter, and yesterday was no exception. Social media burst out of its holiday doldrums with news that the Cubs and Braves may have exchanged specific names with regard to a potential deal for the Chicago star. Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire, so the report out of Atlanta can’t necessarily be ignored. That said, it may have no substance at all as there has been little follow-up by baseball insiders.
I’m not going to get into the back-and-forth on Bryant. We’ve beat that topic to death and frankly I would be happy if I never hear another KB rumor again. I’d much rather focus on the Braves players that would potentially be coming to the Cubs. But before I get into that, I should express my belief that Theo Epstein shouldn’t stop at a Bryant trade — if he indeed makes it — especially if the Atlanta package leans heavily to the prospect side.
Why would the Cubs make the trade that has been suggested? It gets the Cubs below the competitive balance tax threshold for this season and improves their farm system. That represents two pretty big commitments, so I would hope that another trade, perhaps involving Willson Contreras, brings back more prospects. If Bryant does go to Atlanta, the Cubs could have a suddenly top-heavy farm system that includes Nico Hoerner, Brailyn Marquez, Miguel Amaya, Brennen Davis, Drew Waters, and one of Ian Anderson (yes please) or Kyle Wright (no thanks), plus a warm body to replace Bryant in 3B/OF Austin Riley.
Once the dust settles, the Cubs could have seven top 100 players in their farm system. If they want to really get nuts, the front office could think about trading Contreras to a team like the Rays and stock the cupboards even more. Tampa’s system oozes pitching, including Top 100 prospects Matthew Liberatore, Brent Honeywell Jr., and Shane Baz. You throw the bulk of those Braves and Rays prospects into Chicago’s system and start blending them in with the remaining veterans, you have a team that is potentially set up to extend its competitive window for a long time. Best of all, it would leave the organization in a great position financially, perhaps allowing Epstein to pursue Mookie Betts in free agency next winter.
For the record, this is more about me convincing myself that such a plan would work more than me trying to convince our readers. If Bryant must be traded, it’s not a bad package. And if you don’t know much about Waters, he gives the Cubs a potentially elite center fielder who can also bat leadoff. For comparison, his floor is probably Dexter Fowler and his ceiling is close to prime Jacoby Ellsbury. Further, he would allow the organization to move Davis to right field.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs farm system, led by Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Báez, ranked as the fourth best of the decade by MLB.com. The Braves have the decade’s top system.
- The Reds appear to be the favorites to sign Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama. The Padres have been mentioned as a potential fit, too.
- As the rosters of all NL Central teams currently sit, the Cubs project to the highest overall WAR in the division.
- Kansas City third baseman Hunter Dozier could be a cheap target for the Cubs if they do trade Bryant. The Royals would probably listen on Dozier, now 28, because he is coming off of his best season as a pro despite some underlying warts, especially as a defender.
- The article is a few months old, but Davis ranks as the sixth best offensive stats-only minor league prospect in baseball. Waters is four spots below.
- If Ben Zobrist decides to continue his career, he could be a great fit for the Angels, White Sox, or Brewers.
- I forgot to mention Kyle Hendricks yesterday when talking about best 2019 performances. His 81-pitch shutout against the Cardinals was an almost unfathomable feat.
Outfielder Yasiel Puig is emerging as a very real target for the White Sox, who have done an effective job of remaking their team with some shrewd offseason signings. However, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine tweeted that no negotiations have taken place.
The Cardinals may be thinking about reuniting with outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
With 104 regular season wins, the 2017 Dodgers were the best team of the decade not to win a World Series. Los Angeles has failed miserably in the playoffs year after year and should be considered one of the bigger disappointments of the entire decade.
Former Yankees legend Bernie Williams offered some advice to Gerrit Cole about playing in New York.
Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the history-altering trade that sent Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees. Ruth pitched over 1,200 innings in his Boston career. He pitched a total of 31 innings with New York after the trade.
It now takes more than a $100 for a family of four to attend a major league baseball game. Heck a pizza these days can cost upwards of $30, so I won’t rail on the sport too much. MLB organizations need to find a way to make it more affordable for families, especially for the kids, or the future of the game is in jeopardy.
In his final at-bat as a major league ballplayer, Bryan LaHair hit a walk off grand slam. That is your happy Cubs moment of the week.
“I was fighting for my life in the sport.”
As part of https://t.co/IjYEQBFBQp’s Cult Hero project, today we look at Bryan LaHair's path from non-prospect to improbable Cubs All-Star https://t.co/3jZupYDaFZ via @MLB
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) December 26, 2019
They Said It
- “It was emotional. It was almost like, ‘This could be my last Major League at-bat ever.’ You never know what’s next, you know? It was just kind of a special moment. It’s something I’ll always be able to look back on.” – Bryan LaHair
- “To have that moment, those are memories you never forget. For that to be his last hit as a Cub, that’s something special.” – Anthony Rizzo
Friday Walk Up Song
I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town by Ray Charles. The trade talk is getting real, my friends.