Sad though it may be, we may have to look at the possibility of the Chicago Cubs not offering Kris Bryant a contract for 2021.
It’s a conversation that not too long ago seemed unimaginable. Last offseason, the Chicago Cubs were involved in all kinds of trade rumors regarding Kris Bryant, seemingly a new rumor popping up every day. At times, it seemed all but certain that the team would unload their former NL MVP and World Series Champion third baseman, as money was tight, and the team was on the verge of making some tough decisions.
Instead, the team decided to hold onto Bryant for the time being, and the front office appeared to punt on making any difficult decisions regarding their core for at least another year. Which has led us to this current situation: Would the Cubs – and again, it’s hard to believe I’m asking this – actually non-tender Bryant this offseason?
As we reported previously, after a terrible 2020 season that was again also marred by injury, Bryant is projected not to get an increase in salary for 2021, figuring to come in at about $18.6 million. While the Cubs might have caught a break in not seeing his salary go up, that’s still a good deal of money, even more than the Cubs’ option on Anthony Rizzo that they picked up yesterday.
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Of course, there’s still the possibility that the team could trade Bryant this offseason – rumors are already coming up – but given that he’s coming off a year in which he batted just .206 with 11 RBI and was again injured for some of the season, his trade value figures to be low, much lower than it was a year ago.
It could be argued that if the Cubs are going to get rid of Bryant this offseason, they might as well offer him a contract then try to salvage something in return. But again, given last year’s poor performance and the relatively high salary, they might have a hard time finding a taker for a return that would make it worth it.
They might also decide to hold onto Bryant and hope that he can rebound from such a terrible season, as few in-house options are available. It’s going to be difficult to find a replacement outside the organization for a better deal. In that case, they’d risk losing him for nothing this coming offseason anyway.
I’m not necessarily saying that they should non-tender Bryant. And if we were in normal economic conditions right now, it probably wouldn’t be a serious notion. However, since the game in general and the Cubs, in particular, are in difficult financial straits right now, it’s something that at least has to be in the back of our minds.
I really hope it doesn’t come to this. It would be a sad ending for such an important player in team history and an embarrassing move for the organization. Yet it may be something that the front office has to consider. Let’s hope they can find a better alternative.