If Chicago Cubs trade Kris Bryant, Tom Ricketts should sell the team

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Pretty much all season, I’ve maintained the Chicago Cubs will eventually wind up trading some combination of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. I still believe that to be the case – not because I think that’s the proper course of action, but because I have that little faith in ownership to do the right thing here.

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Chicago may have already burned its bridge when it comes to Rizzo. The offer he got in the spring was well shy of what he was eyeing – and there have been no talks since. After a slugging start, Javier Baez is playing like the best member of this winter’s loaded free agent class and Kris Bryant, well, he’s in the midst of what may well end up being the best season of his already-impressive big league career.

We’ve had absolutely no news on the Baez or Bryant extension fronts which allows me to keep just the tiniest sliver of hope that ownership decides to actually do what’s right for the organization and extend one of these guys for the foreseeable future.

If it were up to me, Bryant gets the nod over Baez, for several reasons: first being his consistency. As much as we all love El Mago, you never really know what you’re going to get on a daily basis. He’s more than capable of singlehandedly taking over a game – but he’s also more than capable of going 0-for-4 with a Golden Sombrero.

This year, as impressive as Bryant has been offensively (he enters play Wednesday ranked fifth in all of baseball with a .996 OPS) – what he’s been able to do defensively has been perhaps even more eye-catching.

Seriously, though. Show me another player who’s putting up the numbers he’s putting up play not two, not three, but five positions regularly. I know the window for this core is closing and, by year’s end, will likely be shut – but that’s no reason to not make Bryant a key building block on the next great Chicago Cubs team.

If the Chicago Cubs don’t extend Kris Bryant, fans won’t soon forget it

There’s no disputing that this winter will bring a ton of change to this Cubs roster. More than half of the team is set to hit free agency and Jed Hoyer will have his chance to really put his mark on an organization he was handed by his predecessor, Theo Epstein.

Personally, I’m all for that. A team that’s not so live-or-die when it comes to the long ball might bring some much-needed consistency to the club moving forward. But here’s the thing: Kris Bryant isn’t one of those feast-or-famine hitters. We’re talking about a guy who has a career .381 on-base percentage and is capable of doing damage in multiple ways.

He runs well, plays multiple positions and is a legitimate 30-homer threat on an annual basis. While ownership might see his hot start as a reason to take a wait-and-see approach in talks, I say the opposite. Bryant has shown that he’s capable of anchoring the team for years to come and is back to playing an an elite level.

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If Tom Ricketts wants to own a big-market team, he needs to act like it. Fans are back in the stands, excitement is high in Wrigleyville and now is the time to extend the face of your franchise. Otherwise, you might as well just pack up shop and sell the team.