It’s wild that this is even noteworthy, but 2020 has been a different animal all the way around. After some speculation and outright fear that the Cubs might not tender Kris Bryant a contract for next season, it does appear that they will not simply let him walk away for nothing. As Jon Heyman reported, and it’s admittedly a little hard to make out because of the way this is worded, Bryant will be tendered by Wednesday’s deadline.
Kris Bryant is a target of the Nats, but Nats are determined to keep young pitchers Rutledge and Cavalli. As I just said on @MLBNetwork despite speculation Bryant will indeed be tendered a contract by Cubs on tender/nontender day Wednesday. Other teams that fit KB: Mets, SF, Tor
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2020
However, there’s a bit more going on in this tweet in terms of what could happen after December 2. Heyman starts off by mentioning the Nationals, who’ve been heavily linked to Bryant in trade rumors over the past week or so. The latest of those had Washington GM Mike Rizzo interested in a big upgrade at third base, though not if it means parting with top prospects.
Righties Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli, the organization’s top two prospects, are presumably out of any conversations with the Cubs. Also out of the question are Juan Soto and Trea Turner, though reports going back to last year mentioned young outfielder Victor Robles. He too was considered untouchable in the most recent report, largely because the Nats and other teams know the Cubs have very limited leverage here.
Heyman ends his tweet by noting that the Mets, Giants, and Blue Jays could also be fits for Bryant, though he didn’t mention an even more obvious fit in the Braves. The Jays are reportedly hot after George Springer and perhaps DJ LeMahieu as well, so they could view Bryant as another piece of the puzzle as they try to go for it in 2021.
San Francisco seems an odd fit because they’re a ways off from being competitive and wouldn’t benefit from just one year of Bryant at roughly $20 million. Then again, they’ve apparently expressed interest in Jon Lester and might be more active in free agency to prompt a quick rebuild.
The Mets make sense because new owner Steve Cohen doesn’t care about cost and wants to make a splash right away by luring some of the market’s top names to Queens. He’d be fine with a high cost and limited control, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d likewise allow the baseball ops team to part with top prospects. Speaking of which, the Mets’ front office is still unsettled and they may not be in a position to make big moves for a little while.
It’s highly unlike that Bryant will be traded in the next two days, after which it may take a while for anything to be worked out at all. The deadline to exchange salary figures is January 15, so teams might wait until then in order to know exactly what they’re willing to do in a trade. And as I seem to be repeating every couple days, the Cubs might be able to get just as much for Bryant at the deadline if he’s healthy and performing at a high level.
Wednesday should bring plenty of other news, though, as dozens of players are likely to be non-tendered in budget-driven moves.