Kris Bryant Trade Rumors: Nationals Interested in Cubs Star Ahead of Deadline

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2021

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 02: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs at-bat during a game between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 02, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals are reportedly showing interest in Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant ahead of the 2021 MLB trade deadline on July 30.

Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported the news Friday, but noted it's unclear whether a blockbuster deal is possible with the Nats unwilling to move pitching prospects Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge.

The Cubs started their pre-deadline fire sale Thursday by trading outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for prospect Bryce Ball. 

Chicago was already heading toward a likely offseason roster overhaul because of a high number of impending free agents, and the process was accelerated by a recent 11-game losing streak that's left them eight games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central division race.

Bryant is perhaps the most intriguing piece available because of his track record, highlighted by the 2016 NL MVP Award, and ability to play all over the diamond.

The 29-year-old Las Vegas native is a third baseman, but he's also made starts at first base and all three outfield spots for the Cubs in 2021. He even made one appearance at shortstop for the club in 2016, though he's unlikely to play that position consistently.

Bryant, who's posted an .854 OPS with 16 home runs in 81 games this season, said the situation is out of control but he'd always remember his time in Chicago fondly if he's moved.

"Whenever my time is done playing for the Cubs, whether I retire here or not, I certainly hope to go out representing who I am and just a good person and keep my head high and realizing, whether it's one World Series or four or five more, whatever we did here was special," Bryant told reporters. "And when I'm done playing this game, I can look back on however long I spent in this uniform and be very proud of it."

The four-time All-Star, who can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, would likely play center field if dealt to Washington. Starlin Castro has been playing well at third for the Nats. Josh Harrison could also shift to center with Bryant playing left.

What the Nationals would be willing to offer for a potential short-term rental isn't clear, though. Cavalli and Rutledge are the club's top two prospects in the MLB.com rankings. Next up on the list are pitcher Cole Henry and infielder Yasel Antuna.

Washington is six games back in the NL East, so trading anything of substantial value for Bryant without having a contract extension in place would come with risk.

Bryant probably makes more sense for a high-end World Series contender that believes he could be the missing piece for a championship run.