Phillies’ Kris Bryant chances improve as pair of NL rivals drop out

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: Chicago Cubs third baseman and Major League Baseball 2015 National League Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant (L) and Washington Nationals right fielder and MLB 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper hold ceremonial keys to the city of Las Vegas they received from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman at the Fremont Street Experience on December 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both players grew up playing against and with each other in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: Chicago Cubs third baseman and Major League Baseball 2015 National League Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant (L) and Washington Nationals right fielder and MLB 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper hold ceremonial keys to the city of Las Vegas they received from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman at the Fremont Street Experience on December 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both players grew up playing against and with each other in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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MLB rumor: Giants, Cubs out on Kris Bryant

The Philadelphia Phillies will have stiff competition for Bryce Harper’s buddy Kris Bryant, but it looks like one team is taking itself out of the running.

After trading for Bryant at the 2021 deadline, the San Francisco Giants are reportedly not planning to pursue retaining the star in his free agency. Nor are the Chicago Cubs likely to seek a reunion with their former homegrown star.

The Giants conversation has circulated since early November, with reports that the Giants were ‘underwhelmed‘ by Bryant, who didn’t live up to their lofty expectations. The Cubs speculation is less substantiated, but given their rebuild-signaling fire sale at the trade deadline, it’s unlikely they’d re-sign an old friend when they’re trying to build something new.

Here’s the latest from FanSided’s very own Robert Murray and NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan:

Versatile free agent Kris Bryant fits the Phillies’ many needs

The 29-year-old is a versatile upgrade for any team, but he really fits the Phillies’ current needs. Bryant can play first, third, and the outfield, all gaping areas on the current Phillies roster. Current third baseman Alec Bohm had one of the worst sophomore slumps in recent MLB history; first baseman Rhys Hoskins is better suited to a DH role, which the new CBA will hopefully bring back to the National League.

The Phillies parted ways with a variety of outfielders, and President of Baseball Ops, Dave Dombrowski made it clear ahead of the lockout that slugging outfielders were a top priority this offseason. Bryant, who has 265 career games in the outfield, 32 at first, and 678 at third, can fill any of these roles.

Over seven big-league seasons, Bryant has a lifetime .278/.376/.504 line, .880 OPS, and averages 31 homers and 89 RBI per 162 games. Aside from the shortened 2020 season, Bryant has hit over .265 every year of his career and has appeared in 144+ games in five of six full seasons.

If the Phillies do sign Bryant, it’s likely they wouldn’t sign Kyle Schwarber, another slugging outfielder they have been closely linked to this offseason. The two free agents are looking for similar contracts, and unless the Phillies plan on exceeding the luxury tax threshold for the first time in franchise history, they can’t have both.

More. Bryce Harper sends message with Kris Bryant’s bat. light

Bryant would also have strong built-in chemistry joining Harper on the squad. The two grew up together in Las Vegas, playing with and against each other as they learned the game, and even received keys to the city together back in 2015. Harper even used Bryant’s bat this season, fueling rumors that the Phillies were going to grab the Cubs star at the deadline.

Years ago, Bryant said that Harper wanted to join him on the Cubs. Maybe Bryant will join Harper on the Phillies next year instead.

Related Story. How the latest MLB lockout news impacts the Phillies’ free-agent needs. light

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