Kris Bryant trade package: What could Mets offer look like?

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Kris Bryant Citi Field background TREATED ART
Kris Bryant Citi Field background TREATED ART

As the Mets continue to hunt for deals with the trade deadline approaching, Kris Bryant -- who is all but certain to be moved by the Chicago Cubs -- remains a strong possibility.

Per SNY's Andy Martino, Bryant fits the Mets' desires.

And with Bryant being a two-month rental, the price to acquire him should not be too high.

The 29-year old Bryant is earning $19.5 million this season, meaning the acquiring team will be on the hook for the remainder of that salary (roughly $6.5 million) if the Cubs don't eat any of the money while seeking a bigger prospect haul.

With that in mind, let's take a look at three recent trades where star position players were moved around the deadline in their walk year...

Nick Castellanos from Tigers to Cubs in 2019

Castellanos was dealt to Chicago in exchange for pitching prospects Paul Richan and Alex Lange.

Richan was the Cubs' No. 16 prospect at the time of the deal, while Lange was their No. 23 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

The Cubs were responsible for paying $2.859 million of Castellanos' salary after acquiring him.

Manny Machado from Orioles to Dodgers in 2018

Machado was acquired by the Dodgers in exchange for five prospects -- outfielder Yusniel Diaz, pitchers Dean Kremer and Zach Pop, third baseman Rylan Bannon, and infielder Breyvic Valera.

Diaz was the Dodgers' No. 4 prospect at the time of the trade and No. 84 in MLB, per MLB Pipeline, but was ranked lower elsewhere.

The other four prospects were not top 20-caliber.

The Dodgers were responsible for paying $6.365 million of Machado's salary after dealing for him.

Yoenis Cespedes from Tigers to Mets in 2015

Cespedes was traded to the Mets in exchange for pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

Fulmer's stock was on the rise at the time of the deal, but if you peruse top prospect lists from before the season, he was often absent from the top 20 altogether or at the very bottom of the top 20.

Cessa, who has carved out a nice career for himself, was an afterthought.

The Mets were responsible for paying $3.786 million of Cespedes' salary after trading for him

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There isn't a perfect comp here, but it's fair to expect the Cubs to receive something closer to what the return was for Machado than what the returns were for Castellanos and Cespedes -- both very good players to that point, but not at the level of a Bryant or Machado.

The money aspect is close, too, since Bryant is owed for the remainder of 2021 roughly what Machado was owed for the remainder of 2018 when he was dealt.

Jun 25, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Jun 25, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

For the Mets, whether they strike for Bryant could have a lot to do with how much (if any) prospect capital they trade away in order to bolster their starting rotation, which is their biggest need by far.

It will also depend on the demand for Bryant in what is right now a market flush with buyers.

Will the Cubs insist on a top 5 or so prospect to headline a package, with the other prospects being those outside the top 20? If they do, the Mets should hang up the phone.

Trading someone like Ronny Mauricio in a deal for Jose Berrios -- who has a year of control beyond 2021 and would fill the Mets' most glaring need -- could make sense. Moving Mauricio in a trade for a two-month rental would not be very wise.

Should the Mets consider including Mark Vientos, Khalil Lee, or the raw and still very far away from the majors Alexander Ramirez as the headliner of a Bryant deal, with the other pieces being prospects outside the top 20? Perhaps. But it can be argued that even that cost would be too high for a team like the Mets, who are still rebuilding their system -- especially if they soon move assets for starting pitching help.