Kris Bryant wants out of the Cubs. At 28, the third-baseman is a perfect fit and fills a massive hole for the Mets. Go get him.
Kris Bryant is not the starting pitcher the Mets need to be chasing this winter. What he is, however, is young with at least four, maybe five, year remaining in his prime in his final season of arbitration before becoming a free agent next season.
He’s also a third baseman, a position that’s given the Mets a headache since David Wright covered the position in his prime.
Unlike Stanton, though, Bryant’s contract is entirely negotiable if a trade including an extension can be done.
As a former NL MVP, Rookie of the Year, and three-time All-Star, he won’t come cheap, but with Steve Cohen on board – what the hell – right?
Kris Bryant carries some baggage, though, and the Mets will need to court him carefully with several in-person meetings before extending an offer.
For one thing, Bryant is coming off a down year (205/289/331) that began in the first Spring Training with his answer to the mounting number of critics in Chicago – “I don’t give a shit.”
Kris Bryant’s Bumpy Ride With The Cubs
But if you’ve followed his career on and off, you’ll know there’s more to it than a disgruntled employee whose best years came in 2015-16 with the Cubs.
Once assumed to a vital part of an emerging Cubs dynasty after winning the World Series in 2016, neither Bryant nor the Cubs fulfilled the dream for demanding Cubs fans.
Things reached the bottom this week when the Cubs were unceremoniously tossed from the 2020 playoffs by the upstart Miami Marlins, who swept the Wild Card Series 2-0.
Still, as recently as 2019, Kris Bryant had the kind of year the Mets can dream about. A .282 batting average supported 108 runs scored, 31 home runs, 77 RBI, a .368 on-base percentage, and a selection to the NL All-Star Team.
Kris Bryant: The Genesis Of Disillusionment
Kris Bryant’s disillusionment with the Cubs organization traces back to their “delay of game” tactics when the front office kept Bryant in the minors for a few extra weeks, the effect of which was a delay by one year Bryant’s eligibility for free agency.
While the practice is somewhat common among major league teams, Kris Bryant held on to the offense, even going to the extent of filing a grievance against the league.
Further discontent with the Cubs arose when he lost the grievance. This, as he looked around the league seeing the Mets and Yankees not using the same tactic on two of their prized prospects, Pete Alonso and Gleyber Torres.
Mets: Hurdles And Questions To Overcome
So with that backdrop, the question becomes this. Is Kris Bryant sour only on the Cubs, or is he sour on baseball?
If it’s the former, it can be seen as motivation for Bryant to “show everybody,” and especially his critics in Chicago, there is still plenty left in his tank.
Another wrinkle about Bryant is that Scott Boras represents him. Boras’ lone remaining Mets client is Michael Conforto, but in recent years he has represented Matt Harvey, Carlos Beltran, and Mike Pelfrey, among others.
We can surmise that Boras, who has noticeably shied away from the dysfunction of the Mets organization during recent years of the Wilpon regime, might be more inclined to see the same positive things many are seeing with Steve Cohen’s purchase of the team.
Chaotic Cubs Clearing The Deck For 2021
The first move, of course, belongs to the Cubs. Given that Bryant is in his walk year with no apparent desire to re-sign with the Cubs as a 2022 free agent, why not trade him now, when his value remains high?
Bryant is likely to cost the Cubs a minimum of $20 million for the 2021 season in the arbitration court, assuming again the two parties cannot reach an agreement.
The Cubs never looked like division winners in the NL Central. It was only the fumbling and stumbling of the Reds, Brewers, and Cardinals that enabled them to hold on to a slim three-game lead at the finish of a shortened season.
In another scenario the Mets would rather not see, the Cubs wait until the trade deadline to move Bryant. This is where a strong behind the scenes effort is needed by the Mets and Sandy Alderson to sway the Cubs now.
Mets: You Can Never Have Too Much Offense
As noted before, trading for Kris Bryant might be seen as overkill by the Mets, considering they led the league in batting and on-base percentage in 2020.
The flip side of that, though, is the Mets’ greatest need of starting pitching to replace Rick Porcello, Steven Matz, and Michael Wacha figures to be a difficult challenge, given the lack of talent in the Class of 2021 free agents.
Once you get past Trevor Bauer (30), ages begin to rise into the mid-30’s. When you are talking about the propensity of injuries for starters in later years of their careers, there’s cause for a red flag to appear, and a look before you leap approach before throwing money at the likes of Jon Lester (37), Jake Arrieta (35), or Cole Hamels (37).
Mets: Getting To Know You
To repeat, the Mets need to get to know Kris Bryant to find out what makes him tick before pursuing him a trade and subsequently offering him what is expected to be a four or five-year deal worth $80-100 million.
The other side of the marriage, of course, is Kris Bryant. Will he consider playing in New York for the Mets? If he likes living and playing in Chicago, for instance, he could decide to take his talent cross-town to the up-and-coming White Sox next year.
In any event, Bryant has to be on Sandy Alderson’s list of players on the Mets radar to acquire for next year.
The Mets need a third baseman, and considering the off-year J. D. Davis just had, filling the position for the next few years can only help the Mets, who will need all the offense they can get if they can’t fill the starting pitching holes.