SAN DIEGO — As the 2019 Winter Meetings kicked off Sunday, the Cubs have had discussions with the Phillies regarding a trade involving Kris Bryant, according to Bruce Levine of The Score.
Levine said “nothing is there at the moment” because MLB has not made a ruling yet on Bryant’s grievance hearing.
Cubs have had talks with Phils on Bryant . Nothing there at the moment. Service time grievance still an issue .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 9, 2019
That hearing was made in late October and is expected to “take months” to rule on, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, alleges the Cubs manipulated Bryant’s service time by not calling him up at the start of the 2015 season. By activating him on Apr. 17, the Cubs gained an extra year of club control over Bryant.
MLB arbitrator Mark Irvings heard the Kris Bryant grievance over last few days in NY; he’s expected to take months to rule. The union claim is the Cubs unfairly manipulated Bryant’s service time when they called him up after 12 days in minors in 2015. Boras, Theo both testified.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 25, 2019
Inside that hearing, Boras most likely claimed Bryant’s .425 BA and nine home runs in spring training plus his 43 homers between AA and AAA in 2014 were enough to make the major league roster.
Having an extra year of club control will increase Bryant’s trade value if the Cubs choose to deal him, but Heyman points out the Braves may be a fit.
After the likely departure of Josh Donaldson, who bet on himself with a one-year deal last offseason, Atlanta is in the market for a third baseman and prefer “not to go too long term,” according to Heyman.
Braves in addition to Phillies (and others) are another team that could be a fit for a Kris Bryant trade. They seek 3B and prefer not to go too long term.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 9, 2019
Both clubs look like they have the necessary prospects to pull off a Bryant trade if the Cubs want a pool of young players back.
Possible fits from the Phillies are third baseman Alec Bohm, right hander Spencer Howard and middle infielder Bryson Stott.
According to MLB, the Braves have a better farm system than Philadelphia. Possible prospect fits are outfielder Cristian Pache, RHP Ian Anderson and RHP Kyle Wright.
After deciding not to give Cole Hamels a qualifying offer, Levine also reports the Cubs and White Sox are interested in left-hander Dallas Keuchel.
Like closer Craig Kimbrel, Keuchel did not sign until June and posted a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts for the Braves.
With a total estimated payroll near $190M for 2020, the Cubs do not have a financial flexibility to fill in holes with impact free agents. That’s why it’s been speculated and reported that the Cubs will try to trade one or more pieces from their core this offseason.
After an injury-plagued 2018, Bryant rebounded hitting .282 with 31 home runs and a .382 OBP.
Time will tell if Bryant or other big names like Willson Contreras will be dealt this offseason. The 2019 Winter Meetings conclude in San Diego on Thursday.