I had hesitated writing this article because, well, I’m basically 99.9 percent sure Kris Bryant has played his last game in a Cubs uniform.
But you know, I wrote a free-agent article about Javier Báez and another one about Anthony Rizzo and neither of those guys is likely to be wearing blue Cubs pinstripes next year, though I do think there’s a slim chance Javy comes back.
So I figured I’d at least lay down my thoughts about KB and you can have at it.
Of all the Cubs “core” players, the one I thought truly had Hall of Fame talent was Kris Bryant. With KB about to turn 30 in January and having had several injury-riddled seasons, that’s probably not going to happen for him, which is too bad. In a perfect world, the Cubs core would have led the ballclub to multiple World Series, maybe won more than one, and all would be living happily ever after as Cubs.
But that’s not where we are. Even though I do think the Cubs are going to do their best to put a contending team on the field in 2022, I don’t think spending multiple hundreds of millions of dollars on Kris Bryant is the way to accomplish that.
Here’s what MLB Trade Rumors says KB should get:
Six years, $160MM.
I just can’t see that. Even though MLBTR doesn’t put him in the 10-year deal stratosphere like his supposed Vegas buddy Bryce Harper, or all-world Mike Trout, the $26.67 million AAV on that deal would be far larger than any Cub has ever received. Only Jason Heyward is close to that in AAV, and he signed a deal when several years younger than Bryant, and look how that worked out.
Bryant was a 5 bWAR player, on average, from 2015-19. Over the last two years he’s been worth 3.8 bWAR — total, 3.3 of which came in 2021, split between the Cubs (2.2) and Giants (1.1). At first, when Bryant joined the Giants, it seemed a mutual love affair, with KB a West Coast guy and SF liking his positional versatility, but now:
Andrew Baggarly was on MLB Network and mentioned that Kris Bryant is unlikely to come back to SF and the Giants weren’t very impressed with KB, especially defensively at 3B/CF/RF. Also notes the swing won’t age well.— Greg Zumach (@IvyFutures) November 11, 2021
I tend to agree with all of this. Bryant plays a number of positions, all of them competently, none of them with any sort of star power. To be honest, I think Patrick Wisdom is a better defensive third baseman than Bryant (eye test only, don’t ask me to quote numbers).
Bryant actually hit significantly worse with the Giants after a splashy debut that included a home run.
With Cubs: .267/.358/.503 (87-for-326), 18 home runs, .861 OPS
With Giants: .262/.344/.444 (49-for-187), 7 home runs, .788 OPS
That’s an .835 OPS for the season, and it seems to me that might be his new level of performance going forward. Career OPS through 2019: .901. Career OPS last two seasons: .796 (granted, that includes a weird, injury-filled pandemic season). Somewhere in between those two seems like his new established level.
Good player? Sure. $26.67 AAV for six years? No thanks.
MLBTR says Mariners or Mets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up in Anaheim, because the Angels seem to make a thing out of signing hitters they don’t need and not pay for pitching.
Thanks for the memories and the World Series title, KB, and enjoy your six (or whatever) years elsewhere.
This poll is closed
... the Cubs should sign him to the six-year, $160 million deal proposed by MLB Trade Rumors
... he will cost more in dollars or years or both
... the Cubs should not sign him
Something else (leave in comments)