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There’s a Kris Bryant trade rumor out there... is it viable?

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The Nats are supposedly interested.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

It’s been widely assumed, especially since the departure of Theo Epstein as Cubs President of Baseball Operations and Jed Hoyer succeeding him, that the Cubs were setting themselves up for major changes this offseason. That includes the possible trades of major stars, including Kris Bryant.

Here’s the latest Bryant trade rumor:

Take this with the usual multiple grains of salt. “Hitters they’re currently monitoring on the market.” Could mean anything, from serious interest to kicking the tires.

I don’t generally traffic in trade rumors here, because most of them don’t mean a thing. But let’s say there are actual legs to this. What sort of return would be appropriate for Bryant, who had a bad, injury-plagued 2020 season in which he played just over half of the games and hit .206/.293/.351 (27-for-131) with four home runs? Those numbers would have looked a lot worse, too, if KB hadn’t come back from injury and gone 3-for-8 with two homers in the final two games of the regular season. His OPS went up 61 points in those two games, which just tells you what a small sample size the 2020 season was.

So Bryant’s trade value is probably fairly low at the moment. On the other hand, the fact that his name is out there and teams are interested means that Hoyer can, perhaps, hold out for a better return and if he doesn’t get players to his liking, just keep Bryant.

Most likely, the first player Hoyer would ask for is Carter Kieboom, who the Nationals hoped would be their successor to Anthony Rendon, who departed after 2019 in free agency. Kieboom didn’t live up to that in 2020, hitting just .202/.344/.212 (20-for-99) with only one extra-base hit, a double. Still, that OBP looks pretty good for such a low BA, and Kieboom was a top-20 prospect prior to 2020. He’s 23, about five and a half years younger than Bryant.

The Cubs would also probably want young, controllable pitching from the Nats in a deal like this one. Erick Fedde, who has had middling success the last couple of years as a starter in Washington, is a possibility. He’s not young — he’s 27 — but he is still pre-arbitration for 2021 and the Cubs would have three full years of team control.

I’d probably also want Jackson Rutledge, who was the Nats’ first-round pick (17th overall) in 2019 out of Arkansas. Rutledge will turn 22 on Opening Day 2021 and made 10 minor-league starts in 2019, all at the Rookie or A-ball levels, posting a 3.13 ERA and 0.991 whip, with 15 walks and 39 strikeouts in 37⅓ innings.

Here’s a brief piece of video of Rutledge throwing for Hagerstown in 2019.

That would seem to be a fair deal for someone with Bryant’s pedigree. Who says no?

Poll

Kris Bryant for Carter Kieboom, Erick Fedde and Jackson Rutledge...

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Sounds great! Get it done, Jed!
    (648 votes)
  • 19%
    Not enough return for someone like KB
    (328 votes)
  • 40%
    The Nats wouldn’t do this
    (671 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (23 votes)
1670 votes total Vote Now