As the possibility of Kris Bryant being traded becomes more real every day, what would a realistic and fair haul for the Chicago Cubs standout look like?
The two most prominent suitors for Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant have been the World Series champion Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves. Coincidentally, both of these teams are also top suitors for free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson. The loser of the Donaldson sweepstakes may become the favorite for Bryant.
A new report out of an Atlanta sports radio station (which should be taken with a grain of salt, considering the source) says the Cubs would accept any of the following four players from the Braves: Pitchers Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright or outfielders Drew Waters or Austin Riley.
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Personally, I would like to put Max Fried or Cristian Pache in there as a starting point of a potential trade. Pache is valued as a “60” future value player on the 20-80 scale according to Fangraphs. For those not familiar, 60 is a plus rating, meaning the player will be well above average. Pache saw a power increase in the minor leagues last year with 12 home runs across two levels, a career high, and a strikeout rate under 25 percent.
Pache’s big tool is his defense, and the Cubs outfield defense is fine, not great. Pache would be a big building block for the next wave of Cubs’ players in 2021-future.
Fried had a 4.02 ERA last year with 173 strikeouts in 165 2/3 innings, and has 239 strikeouts over 225 1/3 innings over the course of his short career. He misses bats, which, again, is something the Cubs desperately need more of in their rotation.
Waters struck out over 30 percent of the time last year in the minor leagues, and Riley hit 33 home runs between Triple-A and the Majors, but struck out 36 percent of the time. Neither Waters or Riley seem like much of a fit for the current makeup of the Cubs, but they are both very young players with lots of room for improvement.
Anderson has struck out over nine hitters/nine innings during most of his minor league stops, and was the third overall pick in the 2016 draft. Wright has also seen a little Major League time and it has been nothing short of a disaster in a small sample size, but the Cubs have been good at turning guys like that around under this regime. Wright’s fastball reaches about 97-98 at points, so there’s something there to work with.
As for the Nationals, not much is known what the Cubs are seeking, but the conventional thinking would say that Victor Robles or Carter Kieboom is the starting point. Pitchers Wil Crowe or Jackson Rutledge may also be a part of the deal. Kieboom is a middle infielder that walked 14 percent of the time in the minor leagues last year and struck out just over 20 percent of the time. Like Pache, he has a future value of 60 according to Fangraphs.
Kieboom struggled in the Majors last year however, with a strikeout rate of 37 percent and a wRC+ of just 17. Kieboom has hit 16 home runs each in 2018-19 across the minors, so the power is there.
For me, I think one major league player must be the starting point, such as Robles or Fried. If another team jumps in, like the Rangers or Phillies perhaps, do the Cubs try to pry Rhys Hoskins or Scott Kingery from the Phils? The Rangers don’t have a lot on the Major League roster that jumps out as a good starting place for a trade, maybe Nick Solak?
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Bryant is a former MVP and the Cubs shouldn’t just give him away, and they won’t. Fans will likely love the return for Bryant, which means the trade was successful.