Rangers, Cubs Have Had Discussions About Kris Bryant
The carousel of players the Rangers have been tied to continues to go around and around. Now, there's some tangible traction to another one of those players.
According to a report by Jon Morosi on MLB.com, the Cubs have had trade discussions regarding former-MVP third baseman Kris Bryant with several teams during the past few weeks. Those potential suitors include the Rockies, Nationals, Phillies, and the Texas Rangers.
Morosi goes on to list the Rangers as an "intriguing" suitor given their roster and payroll flexibility, along with their failure to acquire any marquee talent for their lineup this winter. As we know now, the Rangers lost out on Anthony Rendon to the division-rival Angels at the Winter Meetings. Rangers GM Jon Daniels told the media last week that Rendon was the player they went after the hardest this winter.
Daniels also admitted to remaining active in the trade market even this close to spring training. He specifically mentioned how unlike last offseason, the trade market didn't start to develop until later in the winter and how they are remaining engaged on that front.
"The trade market got a late start, which is flipped with where things were the last couple of years where the trade market got out going quick while the free agent market was still going in February," Daniels told the media last week via conference call. "It seems like there's more discussion going on. We don't have anything super-active or close, but enough dialogue still ongoing where it wouldn't shock me if we had some moves that affected our roster as we get going into camp."
There's no telling how advanced the Rangers and Cubs discussions have gotten yet. To this point in the winter, Jon Daniels hasn't seemed interested in mortgaging the future for limited control over a player. The Rangers aren't World Series contenders right now, so it's understandable why the Rangers might not want to part with top pieces from their up-and-coming farm system. They were able to acquire two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in December without parting with any of their top prospects.
The Rangers signed veteran Todd Frazier earlier this winter to address their void at third base. This shrewd move has allowed the Rangers the flexibility to continue to pursue any trade avenues given Frazier's willingness and ability to move over to first base.
However, the Rangers make a lot of sense as a trade partner. Other suitors like the Phillies and Nationals have financial constraints that could limit their interest in taking on Bryant's $18.6 million in 2020 and potentially $25 million in 2021. The Braves have some flexibility, along with a deep pool of talented prospects to get a deal done, but they've shown no real urgency on the Bryant front yet. The Cubs would also benefit from sending Bryant over to the American League.
The Rangers have the financial flexibility to add Bryant. They have some interesting pieces, both at the Major League level and in the farm system. Willie Calhoun and Nick Solak would both be attractive options for Chicago, along with Rangers' top pitching prospect Hans Crouse or third baseman Josh Jung, the Rangers No. 1 prospect on multiple publications.
The Cubs are in an interesting spot right now. They are in a state of flux as they are openly fielding offers for Bryant, which would help them get below the luxury tax. With Bryant refusing any contract extension offers from the Cubs, they may want to trade him away while he has significant value.
That value increased recently when Bryant lost his grievance over his service time, guaranteeing two more years of club control over him. Even with his value increasing, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has said a trade of Bryant grows "less likely" the closer they get to the start of the season, according to Morosi's report.
The Rangers have also been tied to Rockies' superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado amongst a flurry of trade rumors last month. Those trade talks have seemingly damaged the already-fragile relationship between the club and the player.
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich is disinterested in addressing the status of the relationship publicly.
“Nothing. There’s no comment. I haven’t had any comment to this point, so we’ll move past that," Bridich timidly told the media on Tuesday. "Next question.”
With it being nearly a week since we last spoke with Jon Daniels, either of those trade talks could have easily escalated. The Rangers remain a viable option as long as the price tag doesn't make Daniels uncomfortable to pull the trigger. It's a situation worth tracking in the coming days as teams begin their full-squad workouts next week.
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