Kris Bryant’s free agency timeline is now clear and these five teams should be ready to engage the Cubs in trade talks.
As expected, Kris Bryant lost his service time grievance against the Chicago Cubs this week. Service time manipulation seems clear but is also hard to prove, as teams take advantage of a system that allows them to postpone a top prospect’s major league debut just long enough to get an extra year of club control.
In Bryant’s case, his major league debut came on April 17, 2015. If he been called up a day earlier, he would had 172 days of service time and been credited for a full year. He has become the most super of “Super Twos,” with six years and 171 days of service time when the 2021 season ends.
So Bryant is under team control for two more seasons as was first assumed, rather than one as he was fighting for. The Cubs have not done much this offseason, in concert with the idea they want to shed some payroll. There haven’t seemed to be any contract extension talks with Bryant, further adding to trade speculation regarding the former Rookie of the Year and NL MVP.
Now that his free agency timeline is clear, these five teams should be in on any trade talks regarding Bryant before Opening Day.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
Phillies owner John Middleton has declared a willingness to spend stupid money in free agency, and the hiring of Joe Girardi as manager pushes a credible win-now mentality.
The Phillies may have to part with top prospect third baseman Alex Bohm in a deal for Bryant, but according to R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports, executives from around the league believe they would do so. Projected starting center fielder Adam Haseley is also a possible trade chip, even if that would create a theoretical left-to-right outfield of Bryant, Andrew McCutchen (coming off a torn ACL) and Bryce Harper.
Jean Segura has been moved off shortstop with the signing of Didi Gregorius. If Bryant were acquired to take over third base, Scott Kingery could move to second base. In a musical chairs that would be set off by getting Bryant, Segura may find himself on another team (maybe even the Cubs in the deal for Bryant?).
As much as he has control over where he’s traded, if he’s traded, Bryant may like the idea of playing with childhood friend Harper in Philadelphia.