The deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is this Wednesday, December 2 at 7 p.m. CT. There’s still a question about a couple of Cubs players and whether they’ll receive contract tenders, but not about Kris Bryant, per Jon Heyman:
Kris Bryant is a target of the Nats, but Nats are determined to keep young pitchers Rutledge and Cavalli. As I just said on @MLBNetwork despite speculation Bryant will indeed be tendered a contract by Cubs on tender/nontender day Wednesday. Other teams that fit KB: Mets, SF, Tor— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2020
There was no real chance KB would be non-tendered, considering several teams noted by Heyman are potentially interested in trading for him.
I wrote about a KB-to-the-Nats rumor here a couple of weeks ago, but as noted by Jon Heyman, the Nats probably wouldn’t part with top pitching prospect Jackson Rutledge, and in my view Rutledge would have to be part of a package coming back to the Cubs in any Bryant deal.
Three other teams are mentioned by Heyman in his tweet: Mets, Giants, Blue Jays. It’s certain that the Mets, under new ownership with deep pockets wanting to make a splash in the New York market, will be active this offseason. The new owner, Steve Cohen, can certainly afford Bryant’s contract and perhaps to pay him long-term, so I could see the Mets as a possible destination. The Mets have a good young third baseman, J.D. Davis, but he could be part of a package coming back for Bryant.
The Giants have the aging Evan Longoria at third base; Longoria is under contract for 2021 and 2022 (with a 2023 option), and the Cubs certainly wouldn’t want that money. But the Giants could conceivably play Bryant in the outfield — or at DH, if the universal DH is approved.
Boston, too, has a solid current third baseman in Rafael Devers, Devers will turn 25 in January and could be part of a package coming back to the Cubs, if they chose to go that way.
While the tweet indicates that Bryant “will” be tendered a contract, I don’t think that necessarily means he’ll be in the Cubs’ lineup on Opening Day 2021. A trade seems both logical and necessary at this point in Cubs history.
Beyond this, it would appear the Cubs’ best moves at the non-tender deadline Wednesday would be to non-tender Albert Almora Jr. and Jose Martinez. The real tough decision is whether to tender Kyle Schwarber a contract. Schwarber’s arb salary probably sits at around $8 million in 2021, and Jed Hoyer and his team have to decide whether that money would be worth paying.
As always, we await developments.