MLB's hot stove might finally heat up a bit this week. Teams must decide to tender or non-tender all arbitration-eligible players by Wednesday's deadline, which should bring some intriguing trades and add big names to the free-agent market. Of all the teams weighing their options, the Chicago Cubs might have the biggest decision to make.
What will Chicago do with former NL MVP Kris Bryant? MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Cubs will tender Bryant a contract, but the third baseman remains one of the biggest names on the trade market. Heyman also listed an interesting team as a fit for a Bryant: The Giants.
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
The question now is, does Bryant fit the Giants? As teams around baseball -- including perhaps the Cubs -- look to cut payroll, the Giants are focused on "smart baseball decisions." President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris have to be contemplating if Bryant fits under that category.
The Giants are seen as one of the few teams that actually could be aggressive this offseason. Heyman even previously predicted San Francisco will sign Cy Young award winner Trevor Bauer to a five-year, $150 million contract. Let's remember, though, Heyman didn't report the Giants are interested in Bryant at this point. He called Bryant a "fit" for them. That's where it gets tricky.
Giants third baseman Evan Longoria is under contract through the next two seasons, and Bryant's primary position is the same as Longoria's. It seems more likely that the Giants will look for a lefty platoon to share some time with Longoria at the hot corner, a role that newly acquired infielder Jason Vosler could fill. Injuries shortened Bryant's season to only 34 games this year, and he was much worse than Longoria. Bryant had a career-low .644 OPS in 2020, which was 78 points lower than Longoria's .722.
But Bryant is more than six years younger than Longoria. Bryant also has played a handful of games in the outfield, mostly in left, over his six-year career. He also can put a first baseman's mitt on, too. Both corners of the infield don't seem like a fit for the Giants, but perhaps San Francisco's front office views Bryant as a capable left fielder who could also play around the diamond when needed to.
Despite his down season this year, Bryant has been one of the better hitters in baseball since he made his debut in 2015. He already is a three-time All-Star, and won both the Rookie of the Year and a MVP award. The 28-year-old owns a .280/.380/.508 slash line and averaged 28 home runs his first five seasons. When he's at his best, he still is one of the better players in baseball.
While Bryant bashed balls at Wrigley Field, the Giants' current GM had a front-row view as a member of the Cubs' front office. Will Harris push a trade for the former No. 2 overall draft pick? He knows Bryant's contract won't be a cheap one in the future. He also knows just how talented Bryant is.
This might be the perfect time to trade for Bryant. He's coming off a down year and the Cubs at least seem willing to let him go. The Giants just might not be the right fit. If the DH were staying in the NL, which seems increasingly unlikely, this would be a much easier decision.
Talent trumps all, though. The Giants have one of the smartest front offices in the game, and just might pounce at the chance of adding a talent like Bryant. Don't bet on it, but don't count the Orange and Black out on what could turn into a Bryant sweepstakes in the near future.