Josh Donaldson’s deal with the Minnesota Twins will pay him $84 million over the first four years and includes a $16 million club option with an $8 million buyout. In total, it’s $92 million guaranteed with a chase to go to $104 million if Donaldson hits escalators on the option.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 15, 2020
Seems like a good deal for Donaldson, who turned 34 last month. But that leaves the Braves, who have won the N.L. East the last two years, without a third baseman.
There have been rumors all offseason that the Braves were interested in Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, and in fact, I wrote up one Cubs/Braves potential trade for KB here in October. That proposal probably wasn’t enough for the Cubs in return, as many of you pointed out, and so I wrote up another possible Cubs/Braves Bryant deal in November.
We are now just four weeks from players reporting to spring training and the first spring training game is five weeks from this Saturday. KB and the Cubs reached a contract figure of $18.6 million last Friday, avoiding the arbitration process.
It’s been widely assumed that if the Cubs do trade Bryant, it would be for prospects. I disagree with that notion. If they indeed do that, they’d probably be admitting that the 2020 season would be, presumably, for a “rebuild on the fly” (for lack of a better term) and hoping to compete in 2021.
I don’t necessarily think that’s the case, and I do think that a player of Bryant’s caliber should bring back major-league players.
So here’s my new proposal:
Kris Bryant to the Braves for Max Fried and Austin Riley.
That would give the Cubs two young, cost-controlled players. Fried isn’t arb-eligible until 2022 and has five years of team control. Riley will be arb-eligible in 2023 and has six years of team control remaining.
Fried would step right into the Cubs rotation. Riley, who was a Top 100 prospect in 2018 and 2019, would play third base. Riley played a fair amount of outfield for the Braves in 2019, but that was largely because of the presence of Donaldson. He was drafted as a third baseman and played there throughout his minor-league career.
I think getting two quality major-league players for Bryant would be enough. Perhaps you disagree. I’m not the only one who thinks a Bryant to the Braves deal could happen:
Can't say if a Braves deal will happen but Atl still wants a righty, clean up hitter, Snitker loves KB and the Cubs are still willing....still have that grievance to get past...lots of Cubs talk on ESPN 1000 later this week.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) January 15, 2020
And speaking of KB’s grievance:
To be clear ... Astros can concoct a digital sign-stealing scheme, win WS, get caught; MLB can begin & end investigation, take draft picks & $5 mil, suspend GM & manager (who are later fired), faster than an arbitrator can rule on Kris Bryant's service time grievance. Got it.— Wayne Drehs (@espnWD) January 13, 2020
Someday we’ll find out the result of KB’s service time grievance. You’d think it wouldn’t take more than four years.
Kris Bryant to the Braves for Max Fried and Austin Riley...
This poll is closed
Sounds good! Get it done!
Not enough return for KB
The Cubs shouldn’t trade Bryant at all
I have a different KB trade idea (leave in comments)