If the league and MLBPA can’t come to terms on a new CBA by the end of day Monday (which seems highly unlikely given the lack of substantive progress over the last week), MLB has threatened to shorten the season (which they can’t do unilaterally, but it’s still made today feel more important than other days the two sides have spent at the table).
But whether the owner-instituted lockout ends on Monday or weeks from now, there is still a ridiculous number of players looking for a new home on the free agent market, including former Cubs standout Kris Bryant – who is expected to draw wide-reaching interest from across the league. According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, three teams who could be in on Bryant include the North Siders’ crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox.
Bryant’s versatility, in particular, will definitely expand the list of teams who at least do their homework on him. In the case of the White Sox, the outfield projects as a combination of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn. But with Gavin Sheets (who has all of 54 big league games to his credit in his young career) slotted in as the DH, it’s clear you could find a way to work Bryant into the mix regularly.
Last year, the former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP accumulated 3.3 bWAR between Chicago and San Francisco – but at a nine-figure price tag, the Giants are reportedly not interested in bringing him back into the fold in 2022.
If you’re holding out hope for a Cubs reunion, I wouldn’t hold your breath. In my estimation, at least, his market would have to completely bottom out for that to happen. Seattle (again, mentioned above by Bowden along with the Rockies and White Sox) seem like a front runner – but that may also depend on the Seiya Suzuki sweepstakes, too.
Bryant has never replicated his early career domination, but has always been a solidly above average ballplayer – despite what select groups of Cubs fans might have you believe. His ability to play all three outfield spots, plus both corner infield positions, will allow him to move around as he ages and he’s been more than 30 percent better than the league average bat over the years
A return to Chicago – albeit in a different uniform – would be strange, but the fit is definitely there if the White Sox are willing to keep spending.