The Chicago Cubs could be in for significant changes this offseason, and trade talks surrounding one of their best players could be a major storyline.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan suggested that the Cubs could listen to trade offers for third baseman Kris Bryant during the winter. He cites people inside the organization who believe that a “big shake-up” could be necessary, with the team believed to be underachieving in 2019. While lame duck manager Joe Maddon could be a casualty of that belief, there are reasons to believe that Bryant could at least be trade bait.
Passan notes that the Cubs would like to replenish their farm system. Bryant is a client of agent Scott Boras, who is known for taking players he represents to free agency. The third baseman will remain under team control through the 2021 season. With two years of team control left, this winter may be a tempting time for the Cubs to gauge the market for him.
There is no guarantee Bryant gets traded, and it appears to be informed speculation at this point. With another of the league’s young stars in the same boat, however, it’s probably worth paying attention to.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant abruptly left Wednesday’s game against the San Francisco Giants with right knee soreness.
While much of the attention was on the fact that first baseman Anthony Rizzo was ejected from the game just before the bottom of the fifth inning, many quickly took note of the fact that Bryant did not take his position at third base to start the inning, having been replaced by David Bote. Cameras caught Bryant seemingly wincing on his most recent swing.
More coming on this… but it appears Kris Bryant was wincing after this last swing pic.twitter.com/wKAxmHecmy
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 24, 2019
The Cubs later cited right knee soreness as the reason for Bryant’s departure.
Kris Bryant exited today's game with right knee soreness. pic.twitter.com/BZwvNYoS4q
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 24, 2019
Bryant was plagued by a shoulder injury in 2018. He had fully recovered from it and had not suffered any real issues this season up until now.
Albert Almora Jr. wants to see some change in MLB so he never goes through another experience like he endured on Wednesday again.
Almora hit a foul ball during his at-bat in the top of the fourth inning of the Chicago Cubs’ 2-1 win in Houston that struck a young child. Almora was an emotional wreck after hitting the child and struck out in his at-bat. He later cried on the shoulder of a security guard.
“As soon I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was (the young girl) … the rest of the at-bat was kind of a blur. I finally came to my senses after the next half-inning. When that half-inning was over, I just couldn’t keep it in any more,” Almora said after the game.
“Obviously I want to put a net around the whole stadium.”
Almora’s teammate, Kris Bryant, said MLB needs to extend the netting further down lines.
Following the awful incident with a child getting hit by a ball in the Cubs-Astros game, Kris Bryant was unequivocal, telling ESPN that Major League Baseball needs to extend netting further down the lines to prevent hard-hit balls rocketing into the stands and injuring fans.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 30, 2019
All 30 MLB teams took steps prior to the 2018 season to extend the netting around the field to protect against foul balls striking fans. Each team was allowed to decide how much netting they wanted in their stadium.
“It’s an important change for us,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the time. “The safety and security of our fans in the ballpark is obviously really, really important to us.”
MLB did not create a league-wide rule regarding protective netting but may be compelled to do so now.
The child who was hit is reportedly expected to be OK, but that hasn’t impacted Almora’s feelings on the matter.
The Chicago Cubs will have to sweat out the status of Kris Bryant.
Bryant left Sunday’s game when he collided with Jason Heyward while chasing after a fly ball. Manager Joe Maddon said after the game that Bryant was still being evaluated, and he took the brunt of the collision in the head and neck area.
Bryant still under evaluation. Was hit on side of the head/neck, per Maddon. No firm details yet.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 26, 2019
Head injuries — if that is what it is — are obviously worrisome things, and if that’s what it turns out to be, the Cubs will watch him closely. It may end up being as simple as being just sore after a pretty big collision. Still, it’s a bad break after shoulder problems plagued so much of his 2018.
One bit of good news for the Cubs is that they’re set to make a trip to Houston for a three-game series. If Bryant is healthy enough to hit, he could serve as DH in the AL ballpark without having to play the field.
The Chicago Cubs are really starting to get things going, and Kris Bryant is too.
Bryant put the exclamation point on a Chicago Cubs weekend sweep of the St Louis Cardinals with an 8th-inning grand slam on Sunday that put the Cubs up 13-2. He’s homered three times since April 26 and has 11 RBIs in the eight-game span.
After Sunday’s 13-5 win, Bryant said he’s feeling “really good” at the plate and hitting the ball hard, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.
Bryant: “I’ve been feeling really good at the plate. (In) Az, Sea, I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball so hard.”
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) May 6, 2019
Bryant hasn’t exactly opened the season on fire. Instead, he’s hitting .243, though his OPS is .820. Last year he was bothered by a shoulder injury that many ascribed to his drop in power. If he’s starting to see the ball well and feeling good at the plate as he says, that means he could start regaining his MVP form.
The team is already getting great hitting from Willson Contreras, Javy Baez and Jason Heyward, with David Bote swinging a nice bat as well. The starters are pitching well too. If Bryant starts crushing the ball again, the Cubs could have enough to run away with the division.
In 2015, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant spent the first two weeks of the season in the minors so that the team could manipulate his service time and get an extra year of control. The same tactic is being used on the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez now, and Bryant wants to see it changed.
Bryant called the current service time rule exploitation “awful” and said it wasn’t fair to players who work out all offseason and have impressive springs, only to be sent down for the extra year of control.
“I had a killer spring training,” Bryant said of 2015, via Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic. “And I purposely had a great spring training because I went into the offseason, I started earlier, I started the machine earlier. I was working pitches down and away, sliders down and away, velocity off the machine, just so I’m ready when the first game comes. And I was. It was frustrating. But I was down those two weeks and I knew what day I would come up. I don’t know. It’s funny how obvious it can be.
“It was so obvious. I think they’re going to do it to (Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.). ‘Oh, he’s gotta work on his defense.’ Stuff like that. But now I can look back on it and just laugh about it because I was told to work on my defense too and I think I got three groundballs in those games that I played. So it’s like, ‘Oh, now he’s ready.'”
Bryant added that he was “infuriated” by how teams and the league itself hype up prospects on Twitter, only for them to be sent to the minors until the requisite date arrives.
“Stop promoting the guy if you know exactly what’s going to happen,” Bryant said. “It’s a total money grab on everybody’s side. You’re putting the kid in a tough situation too. He’s seeing all this stuff. He’s kind of getting excited about it because, ‘Oh, MLB’s posting stuff about me!’ But at the end of spring training, he’s probably not going to be in the major leagues until that certain date. I totally feel for them. I can see how it’s going to hurt them.”
Players have definitely noticed, and there was talk of one of them filing a grievance against his team over their refusal to call him up. Ultimately, though, this is one of many issues that can only be addressed in the next CBA negotiation.
Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant endured a lot of criticism for a poor 2018, and he’s using it to fuel him going forward.
Bryant said Saturday that he had heard the criticism lobbed at him in a year that saw him hit .272 with 13 home runs while being bothered by a nagging shoulder problem. He added that such criticism motivates him to avoid a repeat performance.
“Definitely, a little bit,” Bryant said, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “But, boy, it was great. When you’re not playing, you have a whole lot of time to just sit there and either go through a Twitter rabbit hole and start seeing things about yourself, or seeing things about ‘trade him’ and this and that.
“And I’m like, ‘All right, I’m motivated. Keep ’em coming. Bring it.'”
Bryant says he is healthy to begin 2019. That should help him get back to where he was in his first three seasons, where he hit .288 and averaged over 30 home runs per year.