Cubs: The Braves have a history of acquiring big name players on one-year deals
After reaching the NLCS for the first time since 2001, the Atlanta Braves fell just one game short of the Fall Classic. Currently projected outside of the top-15 projected 2021 payroll the Braves are in a position to bolster their roster this offseason. There have been talks in the past of Kris Bryant heading to Atlanta and those rumors could soon resurface.
The Braves recently signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a one-year, $11 mil deal and will be looking to improve their offense, specifically at the third base position. After letting Josh Donaldson walk out after his one-year deal, the Braves decided to roll with Austin Riley who was a bit of a disappointment this past season in 51 games played (.239 BA .415 OPS 8 HR 27 RBI).
Atlanta GM Alex Anthopoulus has a history of acquiring big-name players on one-year deals like Donaldson, and most recently current free agent Marcell Ozuna. As a contending team on the brink of a World Series, acquiring a player like Bryant could be the move that takes them to the next level. A best case scenario for the Cubs would involve acquiring a top prospect from Atlanta in outfielder Christian Pache (21) and starting pitcher Ian Anderson (22).
Pache had a small sample size at the plate, playing just two regular season games before hitting .122 in 25 plate-appearances in the postseason. However, the young outfielder flashed his leather numerous times while playing centerfield and still has a high ceiling.
On the mound, Anderson was dominant in the playoffs, going 2-0 while posting a 0.96 ERA in 18 2/3 innings pitched. Not too shabby for any pitcher, let alone a rookie.
The Cubs trading for either of these prospects would be dream scenarios. Unlike the Dodgers and Yankees, the Braves have never been known as a team to spend big money and risk their future. If Atlanta does make a run at Bryant, they’ll look to part ways with their lower-rated prospects. Unless Epstein and his team can snuff out diamonds in the rough with those types of players I think it would be safe to pass. Given that the Cubs farm system has taken a dip in talent these past few seasons, I wouldn’t be too confident in that strategy either
The main theme surrounding all of these trade scenarios is that the Cubs aren’t in the drivers seat when it comes to negotiations. While all of these teams can afford Bryant for this season and beyond, they are in a position where the Cubs would have to settle for less due to their current circumstances of declining player value and their one-year contract situations.
Regardless if he statistically stunk last season, I don’t see any reason to panic and trade Bryant at his lowest value along with the other position players if it means taking just about anything in return. Worst case scenario he can be moved at the deadline next season, where he has more value. Considering how terrible he was at the plate, I think it would be a good risk to assume Bryant can post a batting average higher than his body weight this time around.