As we’ve seen with the Mookie Betts trade, and with free agency signings such as Nick Castellanos moving on to Cincinnati, teams are beginning to position themselves as contenders for the upcoming campaign. And it looks a though in order to win this year, the Phillies may need to acquire more talent, and hinder their bank account in the process, to win a World Series title.
The Phils have been linked to Kris Bryant, who has been on the trade clock all offseason. Bryant lost a grievance he filed, so he’ll be under team control in terms of contract status for the next two seasons. This increases his value enormously to a contending team, as it will eliminate the need for a huge deal getting done soon. He’ll command a fortune in relation to trade value.
The Nationals are the only other team being seriously linked to acquiring Bryant, and I say let the Nationals have him. Yes, Bryant would be an excellent addition. And yes, his history with Bryce Harper strengthens the Phillies ability to make a move for Bryant, potentially for less value. But there are a lot of things to consider when acquiring, and not all of them positive.
First things first, where do you disperse the players already on the Phils roster, and more importantly, who do the Phillies give up in exchange for a guy who just hit 31 homers and is still in the midst of his prime?
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If the Phillies were to give up only prospects, such as Alec Bohm or Adam Haseley, then Bryant slides in as the starter at third, and Scott Kingery moves back out to the outfield. But with Andrew McCutchen, who provided a serious impact last season, moving back to left, where does Kingery play? Does he take Haseley’s spot in center field? If the Phils choose not to rearrange guys likely on the 25-man, it means that a young player is taking a back seat to Bryant. It not only hurts the players development, but it puts the Phillies in a tricky position for as to how they will trade those pieces in the future (if they keep Bryant).
In another case, who do you trade to the Cubbies if Bryant is to come to Philadelphia? If not prospects, then they need to find comparable value on their roster. The bullpen cannot stand for more losses in talent, nor can the starting rotation. The trade will likely consist of position player movement. The cubs have a need in the outfield, as well as potentially in the infield with Bryant gone. This means the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Scott Kingery, Jean Segura, and even Rhys Hoskins are on the table.
For the Phillies to acquire Bryant, the value of Bryant must at least equal the value the Phillies are giving up to get him. High-profile prospects and young MLB talent are the pieces most likely to get moved, and if the trade doesn’t line up exactly how Matt Klentak wants it to, the Phillies likely have the talent to win without him, especially considering the potential improvement of youth on the roster. But if the Phillies pull the trigger on Bryant, it is now World Series or bust.