Chicago Cubs: Do you extend, run out the clock on or trade Kris Bryant?

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Right? Kris Bryant, former National League Rookie of the Year and MVP has had his ups and downs since the 2016 campaign. Due to complications of a shoulder injury that has pestered him on and off in recent years, the Chicago Cubs star has yet to add to his MVP season which, without a doubt, was the best year of his still-young career.

Fast forward to 2021. The calendar has flipped to July. Bryant has been victim of a rough slump which has lowered his season numbers to .270/.351/.502. Bryant’s month of June was about as cold as he has ever been, batting .114 with just nine hits in 79 at-bats. That’s a steep drop off from .322 in April and .327 in May. So what do you do if you’re Jed Hoyer as the trade deadline looms?

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There is a lot to consider with Kris Bryant right now. The fact is, the Cubs’ starting pitching has been abysmal to start the year. Furthermore, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts would shock the world by paying all three of his stars in Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. Although KB is a fan favorite, the time has come to put your heart aside for the betterment of the team moving forward.

If Ricketts doesn’t intend to further negotiations with KB, or vice versa, it only makes sense to trade him in a “get what you can now before he walks for nothing” scenario. The fact is, minus June’s slump, the guy is having a resurgent year at the plate and has improved in the outfield making him far more versatile than anyone else in the Cubs core.

With experience now at third and first base, along with all three outfield positions, a four-time All-Star will undoubtedly have teams blowing up Hoyer’s phone. Should Bryant continue to break out of his slump as he has started to do so with eight hits in his last 21 ABs, his trade value would be the highest of the three.

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It seems certain now the Cubs are not looking to extend KB before the year is over. It seems even more certain that he would not accept an offer, assuming he could get more in free agency (remember, his agent is Scott Boras). This is where it gets complicated. Is KB back to MVP form? Will he be worth whatever the number is that he is seeking? What is the number he is seeking?

As heart-wrenching as it is for fans, if ownership wants to keep Kris Bryant in Cubbie blue, it seems they will only be able to do so via free agency at the end of the year. If that is the case, why not trade him now for pitching to help the faltering rotation? The bullpen will only burn out coming into the fourth or fifth inning every day. The team’s postseason odds have plummeted even with Bryant on the team. We need a solid rotation to make a deep run.

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I cannot stress enough how important pitching is and always has been in this league.  Reality check time. You simply are not a World Series-caliber team giving up 28 runs in two games to the sub-.500 Phillies. You are not the team you thought you were if you go on an 11-game losing streak, regardless of how tough the opponents are. The point is, the Cubs are currently catapulting themselves toward the bottom of the NL Central and Bryant’s hottest of hot streaks won’t be enough to stop the bleeding.