Should the Cubs consider bringing back Kris Bryant after this season and beyond?
A rookie-of-the-year, MVP winner, and World Series hero all in his first two seasons, Kris Bryant was in a position to take the baseball world by storm all at the age of 24. It was only four years ago, but now fans are frustrated and demanding his trade before he becomes a free agent in 2022.
Since making the final out in the 2016 fall classic, Bryant has not had a season with more than 77 RBI and has eclipsed the 30 home run mark just once while getting injured in that span.
The soon-to-be free agent will be demanding a big contract, with the notorious Scott Boras leading the negotiations. This has led to many trade rumors over the past few years, including a swap for Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado who already has a long-term contract in place (8 yrs/$260mil) through 2026.
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If Bryant continues struggling, I could not imagine teams will be lined up with their best offers because they know they will have the advantage over the Cubs, who would not want to let KB walk away without getting a return.
Here is a look at Bryant’s statistics since his rookie-debut:
2015: (151 games) .275 BA .858 OPS 26 HR 99 RBI-Rookie of the Year
2016: (155 games) .292 BA .939 OPS 39 HR 102 RBI-NL Most Valuable Player
2017: (151 games) .295 BA .946 OPS 29 HR 73 RBI
2018: (102 games) .272 BA .834 OPS 13 HR 52 RBI
2019: (147 games) .282 BA .903 OPS 31 HR 77 RBI
2020: (25 games) .208 BA .616 OPS 2 HR 4 RBI
Before this season, the Cubs could have gotten whatever they wanted for Bryant. Despite his low RBI-totals, he still held a high-upside and had a few years remaining on his team-friendly contract.
Now the team is left with a player who cannot seem to stay healthy, or at least that is what it appears from the outside. His latest game missed was due to getting hit by a pitch on his arm, and before that, he was placed on the 10-day IL with a sprained finger.
This is purely speculation, but unless he physically cannot play through these injuries. I would not be surprised if Boras is whispering in Bryant’s ear, advising him to sit-out these games and not risk further injury with his contract year coming up.
As a fan, it is easy to get frustrated, but we have to remember everything Bryant has done for the franchise. The Cubs simply do not win the World Series in 2016 without him. I am not just talking about making the final out, but he had several clutch moments leading up to that. The game-tying home run off Trevor Bauer in game five when the Cubs trailed 3-1 in that series is just one, to name a few.
Taking the weight of a franchise on your shoulders, mind you with a 100+ year championship drought, is a pretty daunting task at such a young age a lot of us probably could not handle–yet Bryant was able to contribute in a big way.
It is sickening to think of Epstein settling for a poor deal just for someone to take Bryant off his hands. I would instead take the risk of paying him if it is not a lucrative deal and hoping he can get back to the exciting player he was not too long ago.
We have waited this long, so if Bryant is traded, it better be for something pretty darn good in return.