DENVER – As one might imagine, there was a healthy amount of reporters surrounding the Cubs’ only position player who was named to the National League All-Start team on Monday.
Kris Bryant’s play in 2021 wasn’t the only reason why, but rather the situation he may find himself in over the next two-and-a-half weeks. With the Cubs falling out of contention over the last two weeks, the team may look to trade the former MVP as he enters the final year of his contract.
It’s a situation that faces the club with Bryant’s teammates Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez as well: Try to trade the players and get something in return or lose them for nothing in free agency if they can’t sign them.
Naturally, there were a lot of questions that were directed Bryant’s way during the media session before Tuesday’s All-Star Game concerning his future with the club. The third baseman wasn’t naive to the situation, knowing his time wearing the Cubs’ uniform could be short, but he wasn’t going to let it ruin his fourth All-Star experience.
“I don’t think like that at all,” said Bryant when asked if he’s thought about this All-Star Game being his last as a Cub. “It could happen. I could be here for two days, two months, two years, ten years. It’s all up in the air, but it’s really cool to say that I’ve put this ‘uni’ on four times for the Chicago Cubs, and I don’t take that lightly, either.
“To be able to represent the team with Craig (Kimbrel) here, it’s so special.”
Those are the two representatives for the Cubs, with each having uncertain futures beyond the end of July with the club. Kimbrel, who has rediscovered the form of the early part of his career with 20 saves and a 0.57 ERA, is also on the last year of his deal.
Meanwhile the four representatives of the White Sox – shortstop Tim Anderson along with pitchers Liam Hendriks, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Rodon – have their mind more on their destination in October after a strong first half of the season.
At 54-35, the White Sox are the best team in the American League with a .607 winning percentage, just ahead of the Astros (.604) and Red Sox (.604). They have an eight-game lead over the Indians for first place in the American League Central division, looking for that title for the first time since 2008.
Yet for newcomers to the All-Star Game like Anderson, who has been building towards the selection the last few seasons, that can take a back seat for 48 hours.
“You’re here with the best of the best,” said Anderson, who will be a reserve for Tuesday’s game. “Just continue to keep pushing and keep having fun.”
He figures to get in the game at some point, but with 11 pitchers on the roster, time will tell if Rodon gets the chance to take the mound after his breakthrough first half of the season (7-3, 2.31 ERA, 130 strikeouts).
“It’s a special moment. You take on the best in the game,” said Rodon.
That opportunity is top of mind for Chicago All-Stars for at least two days.