Chicago Cubs: How are you going to replace his production?
Look, let’s just admit it. If the Cubs trade Bryant, there’s no way they replace his level of production in the lineup, especially when he’s healthy. From 2015 to 2017, he averaged 6.9 Fangraphs WAR. That number ticked off in his injury-ravaged 2018 season and he bounced back to a respectable 4.8 clip last season, despite some nagging ailments.
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Take him out of the equation. To whom do you turn? David Bote seems like the likeliest alternative, although he may very well be the starting second baseman if Chicago opts to have Nico Hoerner open the year at Triple-A Iowa for some more seasoning. Moving Bote to third means you’re looking at Robel Garcia or Daniel Descalso starting at second – which hardly seems ideal.
Even Bote, who could be controlled through his age-33 season in 2026 if the Cubs exercised the pair of team options on the back end, leaves something to be desired. In his two big league seasons to date, he’s put up 1.0 and 1.5 WAR, respectively, never appearing in more than 127 games, which he did in 2019.
Projections are hardly optimistic on Bote, either – which further reinforces the question at hand: how does trading Kris Bryant make you a better team? Sure, it might keep you from bottoming out after the 2021 season. But that also assumes the talent you get in any hypothetical deal pans out in a measurable way.
Trading Bryant might get you under the luxury tax threshold and reset penalties next season. It might keep you from being a last-place team once this current core hits free agency in a couple years, too. But it might also mean settling for mediocrity, where the Cubs become a .500 team and the fanbase looks back on the trade asking itself ‘what if’ for years to come.