The Phillies are reportedly said to “make a lot of sense” as a trade destination for the Cubs’ three-time All-Star 3B Kris Bryant.
With the Phillies on the brink of the luxury tax, with some bench and bullpen spots still needing to be addressed, general manager Matt Klentak is going to have to be creative this offseason.
Yet, that might be a moot point entirely, as even after signing Didi Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million deal, on top of Zack Wheeler‘s five-year, $100-plus million pact, the Phillies could still make one more blockbuster addition.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that could come in the form of acquiring 2015 National League Rookie of the Year and 2016 National League MVP, third baseman Kris Bryant, from the Chicago Cubs.
“[The Cubs] are out in the marketplace right now with Kris Bryant,” Olney recently said on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. “What I’ve heard from other teams is that they feel like the Cubs are going to have difficulty moving Bryant because he’s going to make so much money through arbitration – $18.5 million is the projected number for next season, and that’s going to grow potentially in 2021.”
Olney adds that because of his project high arbitration-earning figure, there “may not be a big market of bidders for him.”
Yet, the Phillies stand out in particular.
“The Phillies, boy they would make a lot of sense,” Olney continued, “because they do have payroll flexibility. Kris Bryant is a Scott Boras client and we know the Phillies work well with that.”
The soon-to-be 28-year-old is currently undergoing a service time grievance process that would temporarily hold up a trade; Bryant argues that during the 2015 season, the Cubs waited to promote him from Triple-A Iowa until one day after he would have qualified for a full year of service. Currently, Bryant is set to become a free agent after the 2021 season, but if victorious in his grievance, he could become a free agent as soon as following the 2020 season.
Both sides are still waiting to find out the result of the grievance.
On December 9, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score first reported that the Cubs have discussed Bryant with the Phillies, who at the time were also linked to Washington Nationals free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. According to a recent report, the Phillies are likely “out” on the 2019 World Series champion, hence leaving either just Bryant or Scott Kingery as Opening Day third base possibilities for new manager Joe Girardi.
The Nationals are also reportedly interested in a potential acquisition of the three-time All-Star, in case they cannot come to terms to re-sign Rendon.
Bryant is friends with the Phillies’ Bryce Harper, and the two have at least two things in common: they are both natives of Las Vegas, Nevada, and are represented by Boras. He was drafted second overall in the 2013 amateur draft, and, since debuting in 2015, has slashed .284/.385/.516 in the majors with 167 doubles, 138 home runs, 403 RBI, 369 walks and 733 strikeouts in 706 games.
During the seven-game 2016 World Series, in which he and the Cubs won, Bryant slashed .269/.387/.500 with a pair of solo home runs.