Chicago Cubs: Exploring potential replacements for Kris Bryant
Replacing Bryant via free agency or internal options.
Looking at the Chicago Cubs’ options, neither of these seem like a particularly wise decision given the options available. Just so we’re clear, the team has no chance of landing Donaldson or Rendon.
Past those two, there really aren’t any inspiring options on the market at third base. In terms of WAR, Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier would be the next in line behind the big name free agents and, while neither are terrible out of context, we’re talking about a Bryant replacement here.
An intriguing decision would be to try and trade off Bryant and then sign Nicholas Castellanos to play third base. There would be a lot of question marks in regards to his defense at the hot corner, but with his scorched earth campaign after the trade deadline last year, it certainly has to have crossed the Cubs’ minds at some point.
The team could also try to sign Travis Shaw to a minor league deal and have him attempt to earn the position at spring training. Shaw was non-tendered by the Brewers after an unholy 2019, but in the two years before that, he hit 30+ home runs with an above average OPS+, so the Cubs could try and reawaken the true Mayor of Ding Dong City.
Of course, they can always try to look internally, but that arguably inspires less confidence than the free agents. David Bote would likely be the first in line to take the spot, but his sub-par defense and league average bat indicate he’d be better used in a utility role.
Ian Happ could also take over third base, but he currently feels more like a potential trade candidate than an option for next year. Robel Garcia is in a similar position, not in that he could be traded, but he’s probably more likely to be used in the middle infield or on the bench than at third.
The team clearly isn’t without options, but a trade feels like the most effective of what’s currently available. It’s best if the team looks at a way to pickup a cheap, yet effective third baseman so that at least the team can make the most of the payroll they’ve freed up by trading Bryant.