The Atlanta Braves and the price for Kris Bryant
Are the Atlanta Braves interested in Kris Bryant? Probably not if the Cubs stick with their pricing.
Selling off star players is a tricky business. You want to make sure you get something of significant value, but trade partners also want to be certain the deal will be worth it. Under Alex Anthopoulos, the Atlanta Braves have been rather conservative in making these valuations.
The real trick comes when teams are still thinking “sell high” when the numbers are clearly not on their side. That’s the case with Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.
Specifically, these are the numbers referred to:
- Just 1 single year left until an inevitable (Scott Boras orchestrated) free agency
- A 2020 season with a 73 OPS+, .206 batting average, and 76 Runs-created average
- An arbitration salary expected to be $18.6 million
Funny thing: based on the rumors, the Cubs seem to believe he’s the best third baseman in baseball, yet aren’t pursuing him for a contract extension and have generally treated him like a contract worker rather than a valued member of the organization… starting with his infamous initial call-up date that insured an extra year of team control… and a grievance filing.
Here’s that rumor:
The background you need to know here are that Rutledge and Cavalli (both right-handed pitchers) are the Nationals’ #1 and #2 minor league prospects, respectively (though both are a bit away from the majors… likely 2023 or so).
The Braves actually had drafted Cavalli as a high-schooler, but he declined their offers as a 29th rounder. The Nationals got him in 2020 as the 22nd overall pick from Oklahoma.
The 6’8″ Rutledge has a 99mph fastball and he was their 1st rounder in 2019.
A key point: neither of these players is listed as a Top 100 talent by mlbpipeline.com right now, but (a) their updated list doesn’t come out for a couple more months, and (b) they are both undoubtedly knocking on that door with the Nationals still thinking that either could be at least a mid-rotation starter someday.
The equivalent for Atlanta might be someone in the range of catcher Shea Langeliers (#65), SS Braden Shewmake, LHP Kyle Muller , or catcher William Contreras.
Would you give up (at least) one of these players — and their full 6-to-7 years of team control — for a single, expensive year of Bryant… not knowing if he’ll give you “contract year” numbers or if the 2020 season was a harbinger for things to come for him?
Here’s one opinion — regarding those Nats players mentioned:
New Cubs man-in-charge Hoyer probably needs to get a deal done to dump Bryant, but such demands aren’t going to get talks moving.
I keep referring to Fred’s suggested deal for the Atlanta Braves, which included other players and still was admittedly an ‘overpay’ so that the Cubs might be inclined to take Inciarte’s salary… but that one would certainly help both sides and the principals involved are only hanging around for a single year.
But if Chicago is going to continue insisting on top prospects coming back in return… they might end up having to pay Bryant that full $18.6 million themselves… the price for a year-end Qualifying Offer.