The Red Sox and Cubs engaged in trade talks centered around All-Star third baseman Kris Bryant over the summer, according to The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales.
Per Gonzales, “two sources confirmed the Red Sox and Cubs discussed Bryant this summer, but those talks faded.”
Bryant, who turns 29 in January, is under team control with the Cubs for one more season. He is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $18.6 million in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility in 2021.
Because he is on the verge of free agency, Bryant, like Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, seems likely to get dealt at some point this winter.
The Las Vegas native is nearly two months removed from an uncharacteristic 2020 campaign in which he slashed .206/.293/.351 with just four home runs and 11 RBI over 34 games played.
In those 34 games, Bryant saw the majority of his playing time come at the hot corner, but he also logged 29 innings in left field. Because of the experience he has in the outfield, as well as the fact that Rafael Devers appears to be the third baseman of the future, “the Red Sox would envision Bryant as a left fielder,” per Gonzales.
As currently constructed, the Red Sox’ outfield picture is somewhat shorthanded in the wake of Jackie Bradley Jr. declaring for free agency last month.
Without an everyday centerfielder on the roster, either Andrew Benintendi or Alex Verdugo could make the switch to patrol center on a regular basis, which would therefore create an opening for someone like Bryant.
For as disappointing as his 2020 season may have been, Bryant still has the potential to bounce back in a tremendous way in 2021, especially since it would be a contract year for him.
In 740 games spanning six big-league seasons with Chicago, the former first-round pick, who is a Boras Corp. client, has clubbed 142 homers and collected 414 RBI. He won National League Rookie of the Year in 2015, National League MVP in 2016, and has been named to three National League All-Star teams.
On top of that, Bryant’s father, Mike, hails from Medford, Mass. and was selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 1980 amateur draft out of UMASS Lowell.
It remains to be seen how likely a Bryant-to-Boston trade is at the moment considering talks between the Cubs and Sox faded over the summer, but dealing for a player of Bryant’s caliber with only one guaranteed year of team control would certainly be an aggressive move for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.
Also, as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith notes, “it’s not uncommon for teams to lay groundwork at the trade deadline, then resume trade talks during the offseason.” We will have to wait and see if those trade talks do indeed resume.