Please understand that I’m writing this with reluctance akin to that of Marshawn Lynch, sans threat of fine. Which is to say that I’d prefer to kill these Kris Bryant/Nolan Arenado trade rumors with fire and just move on to actual baseball. However, the persistence of the reports dictates that I at least afford it enough coverage to preserve an accurate record of history in the event that blogs are all that survive the apocalypse.
The most recent iteration comes by way of David Kaplan and Jesse Rogers on ESPN 1000. Spurred by the news that Arenado — who, unlike Bryant, is legitimately disgruntled — has been taking batting practice at Arizona State rather than at the Rockies facilities, talk turned to whether Colorado was actively trying to move their star.
“I still think it’s still sort of…percolating, I think that’s the best word for it,” Rogers said. “You’re absolutely right about him wanting out. I think ownership and Bud Black and everybody is doing everything they can on the phone — not in person — to get him back in line.
“They’re going to do everything they can up until the moment to really make a decision, and that could be this Sunday because that is report day for the Rockies. And that’s report day basically for the Cubs as well.”
Rogers went on to say that the the Cubs aren’t in nearly as dire a position as the Rockies because Bryant isn’t upset, but that conversations have taken place and the lines of communication remain open. He was clear to point out that, while nothing is imminent on that front, nothing has been ruled out and might not be for a while. Bryant is scheduled to arrive in Mesa on Friday, so things may get a little more clear when he gets to camp and addresses the media.
None of that is really any different from what has been reported all along from multiple outlets, all of which Theo Epstein chalked up to collective exaggeration of the Cubs’ openness to listen to anything. That includes taking calls from multiple teams in recent weeks, per Jon Morosi, though he indicated that the Cubs aren’t displaying the same urgency shown by the Red Sox when trying to move Mookie Betts.
The Rockies, on the other hand, may feel the pressure to move Arenado rather than head into the season with a player who doesn’t want to be there. But as Kaplan shared on his show, he has been told that the Cubs are likewise itching to bring Arenado aboard.
“I was on the phone with somebody in Colorado last night who covers the Rockies, and he said to me, ‘Hey, dude, let me just tell you, these discussions are real,” Kaplan said Wednesday. “He said Nolan Arenado’s a phenomenal guy, he is a grinder, he is a leader in the room. In fact, he actually compared him to a guy like Jonathan Toews.
“But he absolutely wants out of the Colorado Rockies organization, and he’s made it clear to ownership. I don’t want to be here. Get me outta here.’ He said, ‘I’m telling you, the Cubs are absolutely motivated to try and get him. Absolutely, a hundred percent.’
“And Kris Bryant would go in a deal that way, the Rockies would get out from underneath the long-term commitment to a guy who doesn’t want to be there, and the Cubs would have cost certainty going forward for the next seven years for a really good player. And then they’d give a prospect — the Cubs would — in the deal and the Rockies would give some money back to the Cubs to make the salary structure work out.”
Hmmm, how to take this? One way to be to accept it at face value, since the Cubs have seemingly been enamored of Arenado for quite some time. Yet another would be to see this as a targeted leak aimed at getting other teams to make or increase their own offers. Still another would be to believe it’s all a bunch of hooey.
I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that the Cubs would suddenly reverse course on their obvious goals to reduce payroll costs, particularly when Arenado has an opt-out in two years. He could perhaps be enticed to forfeit that option, but that would require even more of the guaranteed money the Cubs have been reluctant to hand out. What’s more, the effort it would take to clear the surplus salary from Arenado’s deal would mean further weakening a roster that isn’t incredibly deep to begin with.
There are obviously many more people who see this as a great move and find the logic in it, so for more on that I would direct you to Brett Taylor’s piece on the same topic. He has what I’d call a more objective view on the matter, or maybe we can say his perspective is different from mine. Always good to look at all the angles.
There are undoubtedly a good deal more layers than I’m accounting for here, including the possibility that the Cubs just go hog wild and find a way to keep Bryant while still trading for Arenado. In the end, I still don’t believe we see those all peeled back by a deal coming to fruition. The fact that this is persisting, though, means that we can’t simply dismiss the rumors out of hand.