Last Friday, BCB’s Tim Huwe wrote this proposal here regarding a potential trade of Kris Bryant. It centered around acquiring prospects.
To me, the message sent in trading KB for prospects would be: We’re rebuilding.
Eventually, this team will have to “rebuild.” Virtually every team does; those who contend and win go through up and down cycles, times when they’re at the top, times when they have to sell off parts and “return to championship-caliber form,” as Tom Ricketts stated in his recent email to season-ticket holders.
I don’t think the Cubs are in rebuild mode. The core of the team is still (relatively) young, and in many ways the Cubs are the most talented team in the N.L. Central.
But there are two reasons to trade Kris Bryant. One is that the Cubs are very unlikely to sign him to a long-term deal when he reaches free agency after 2021. Why not trade him now, when at age 27 he’s likely at his peak? That would also maximize the return.
Second, it’s been noted in many places that the core of this ballclub has exhibited some complacency and doesn’t seem to have the sense of urgency to win that management would like to see. Shaking it up by trading a major player like Bryant might awaken that.
One thing the Cubs need to do is revamp their starting pitching. Two of the starters in 2019 (Jon Lester, Cole Hamels) were 35. Though they had their moments, their age showed at times. The other three will all be 30 or older on Opening Day 2020 (presuming Jose Quintana’s option is picked up). Hamels is likely gone as a free agent.
So here’s my proposal, and it’s pretty simple:
Kris Bryant to the Braves for Max Fried.
Fried had a solid 2.6 bWAR season for the Braves in 2019. Though his ERA was a bit high (4.05), his FIP was lower (3.72). He had an excellent walk rate of 2.6 per nine innings, and the Cubs could replace the lefthanded Hamels with another lefty in Fried. Interestingly, he was a draft selection one pick after the Cubs chose Albert Almora Jr. in 2012. He’s got two more years before he’s arbitration-eligible, so the Cubs would have quite a bit of cost savings.
The Braves can afford Bryant and they’re likely to lose Josh Donaldson to free agency.
Now, how do the Cubs replace Bryant at third base? You’re going to say “Anthony Rendon” and I’m going to tell you that the Cubs are simply not going to spend that kind of money (Rendon has already been made a seven-year, $210 million offer by the Nationals).
My choice to replace Bryant at third base: Mike Moustakas.
Moustakas had a solid .254/.329/.516 season with the Brewers in 2019 with 30 doubles and 35 home runs. That produced 3.3 bWAR. Moustakas is a solid defender and from all accounts, a good clubhouse guy. He and the Brewers have a mutual option; he could decline it and explore the free-agent market. His agent is Scott Boras, and you might recall how Boras’ advice to Moustakas to hold out for a top offer before the 2018 season resulted in Moustakas getting a lot less money than he otherwise might have:
Boras, his agent, had misjudged the market. Moustakas lost nearly $10 million in the process in 2018.
Presuming that mutual option is declined and Moustakas goes to free agency, the Cubs could make him a two-year, $30 million offer, perhaps with a third-year team or mutual option. That would coincide with the years this group of Cubs supposedly have a playoff window open, and at 31 Moustakas likely has a couple of solid years left. The Brewers do have an $11 million mutual option on Moustakas ($3 million buyout) for 2020.
So that’s my idea. The Cubs trade Bryant for a solid young starting pitcher and sign a roughly comparable replacement to play third base. I think it would work. Your turn.
Trading Kris Bryant for Max Fried, then signing Mike Moustakas to play third base...
This poll is closed
Great idea! Get it done, Theo!
This would never work. Pass.
Something else (leave in comments)