Chicago Cubs: Will Kris Bryant leave the Cubs when he hits free agency?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Are the days where players spend their career in one uniform over? A recent report regarding the Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant indicates that it might be.

Longtime Chicago Sun-Times sportswriter Gordon Wittenmyer joined 670 The Score’s weekly morning show, filling in for David Haugh Tuesday and was asked about the future of Chicago Cubs superstar Kris Bryant.

Wittenmyer, the Sun-Times‘ Cubs beat writer, believes Bryant will not re-sign with the Cubs once he hits free agency after the 2021 season.

Now, let me be clear. He was not reporting anything or claiming he’s heard any rumors of it but just lightly poking at what might be a harsh reality in a few seasons. He went on to say the Cubs will use all their money on pitching as his reasoning for Bryant leaving.

Interesting take, Gordo.

Radio click bait?

Bryant is entering his second year of arbitration after making $10 million last season. He’ll see an uptick each season going forward and will look to cash in big in the winter of 2021. Bryant will be 30 by Spring Training 2022.

It’s a take that’s good for radio, something that gets the text line moving and that’s how I will choose to look at it.

In the winter of 2021, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood will be free agents and Cole Hamels likely will be long retired. That leaves Yu Darvish, who will be entering year four of his contract with the Cubs.

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So, Wittenmyer is correct in saying the Cubs will have to make some moves for pitching. Who knows if this rotation will remain intact over the next few seasons. That’s not to say the team lacks any options in the system, though. Right-hander Adbert Alzolay headlines today’s list of Chicago minor league hurlers.

He, unfortunately, suffered a strained right lat in June and the Cubs shut him down for the rest of the season. Though, he is only 23 and some believe he has top of the rotation potential.

I do wonder if the Cubs will find a way to offer Hendricks a contract extension soon. It would be beneficial for both sides and would help shore up the rotation the Cubs will have come 2021.

Will Bryant be worth the money?

I take projections lightly, but Steamer has Bryant set to have the highest fWAR in the National League next season at 5.8. What’s crazy is they have Mike Trout projected at 9.3. Still, the Cubs would love to get that kind of production from Bryant in 2019. If Bryant puts these kinds of numbers up the next three years, it will be interesting to see how they proceed with re-signing him.

Of course, by then who knows where the Cubs’ competitive window is. We’ve seen teams peak and fall quickly, the Kansas City Royals for example. They won the World Series in 2015 and have been trending down each season since, including a 100-loss season in 2018.

Right now, I’d bet the Cubs will at least contend for the NL Central crown for the next three seasons, barring any excessive injuries to core players. That group is still young and all it takes is for a few bounce-back seasons from select players for this team to be a real World Series contender.

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A lot of things can happen between now and then but claiming there’s no chance the Chicago Cubs re-sign Bryant is, well, bold. The team should have plenty of reasons to re-sign the former NL MVP, but it will be a costly one. We know that much.