The Cubs brass is smarter than fans and know Kris Bryant has plenty to offer.
There’s very little Kris Bryant hasn’t already accomplished in his first six years with the Chicago Cubs. Three All-Star selections, Rookie of the Year, NL Most Valuable Player – the list goes on and on. Oh, and he played a pivotal role in the team ending a 108-year World Series championship drought in just his second season in the bigs.
But if you look on Twitter (seriously, if not for work I’d never open the app again), you’d think Bryant is a washed-up has-been who’s done pretty much nothing for the team. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
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My favorite is the people out there, sitting behind their keyboards calling the 28-year-old Las Vegas native ‘soft’. This claim despite his playing through injury after injury, year after year. He plays the game hard and it’s what endeared him to Cubs fans early on in his career. But instead of complaining about the bumps and bruises he experiences, Bryant always keeps his head down and grinds on.
The latest woe to sideline the former first-rounder? An oblique injury. That adds to a lengthy list of ailments he’s suffered from this year, including a shoulder injury, issues with his hand and wrist and a stomach bug early in the season. What has all this added up to? A wholly forgettable 2020 performance – especially at the plate.
On the year, he carries a .195/.283/.301 line. His game has been completely devoid of power, evidenced by his two home runs in 123 at-bats. Still, he’s turning in one of the best defensive seasons of his career at third base and it seems like every night, he’s making a play worthy of SportsCenter’s Top 10.
So why am I talking about all this? In the last 12-18 months, we’ve heard the on-and-off rumors regarding Bryant, the Cubs and potential contract extensions. Then, once those died down, the trade rumors picked up steam. But here we are – he’s still a Cub and the team still has one more year of control.
After the struggles he’s had in 2020, super-agent Scott Boras will have a tough time landing a mega-contract for Bryant, regardless of all his accomplishments. That being said, teams around Major League Baseball – including the Cubs – are very much aware of what he brings to the table when healthy.
And thank goodness. Because if the front office was run by Joe Twitter rather than Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, we’d be in a whole mess of trouble when it comes to this team.
Strategically speaking, Chicago has never been in such a strong negotiating position when it comes to extending their third baseman. He’ll turn 29 in January and is coming off what’s easily the worst season of his career. On the flip side, it’s unlikely Boras wants to talk about a deal this winter. He’s far more likely to roll the dice on KB turning in a bounceback performance in 2021.
Still, I suspect the Cubs will at least ask the question and see what kind of numbers Bryant’s camp is thinking about once the postseason wraps up. Why? Because they’re perfectly aware that, while his value in any hypothetical extension has never been lower, the same can be said for his trade value.
Love it, hate it – I don’t really care. But it’s near-impossible for me to envision Kris Bryant playing anywhere but the Friendly Confines to open next season, regardless of how much of a struggle 2020 has been for him.