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Kris Bryant Trade Rumors: Phillies, Cubs Held Talks; 'Nothing There' at Moment

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2019

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) thirds to first base during a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
Matt Marton/Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have had trade talks regarding third baseman Kris Bryant, according to Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM, though there is "nothing there at the moment" and Bryant's "service time grievance" remains an issue in any talks.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman added more context to the situation, noting the grievance is "a hurdle to a Bryant trade. Arbitrator has to decide whether he's a free agent in one year or two, and that decision could still be several weeks away. Of course always possible contingent deals could be struck depending on th

It's no secret that the Phillies are keen to improve in the infield. Heyman reported earlier on Monday that shortstop Didi Gregorius is expected to sign as a free agent this winter in the $14 million to $15 million range per year, with the Phillies among the teams interested.

And Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Friday that the Phils, "luxury tax be damned, plan to strongly pursue free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, with third baseman Josh Donaldson as a potential fall-back plan."

He added that Rendon had become the team's priority in free agency after also signing starting pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million deal. 

As Nightengale opined, adding infield help like Rendon would allow the team to potentially move Scott Kingery to center field full time or could free them up to trade shortstop Jean Segura for pitching help. It could also signal a willingness to move top prospect Alec Bohm for a top rotational option. 

Joe Giglio @JoeGiglioSports

Rumored for Moustakas. Linked to Rendon and Donaldson. Talked about Bryant. It’s pretty clear the Phillies don’t believe in the Bohm at 3B, Rhys at 1B corner combo long term. Not sure which they are more uneasy about, but it’s not hard to connect the dots.

Trading for Bryant would fulfill a similar purpose. While the 27-year-old is a step down from Rendon, he still hit .282 this past season with 31 homers, 77 RBI, 108 runs and a .908 OPS. Bryant is a rather pedestrian fielder, however, with a minus-1.1 defensive WAR at third base this past season. 

Compare that to Rendon, who hit .319 with 34 homers, 126 RBI, 117 runs, a 1.010 OPS and 0.3 defensive WAR at third.

Rendon is the better player, no doubt, but Bryant would be an excellent consolation prize if the Phillies choose to go that route (assuming the Cubs continue to suggest behind closed doors that they are looking to cut payroll, as The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Sunday, and actually move Bryant). 

Regardless, it appears the Phillies are going to busy yet again this offseason after making a big splash a year ago. That only resulted in an 81-81 record, and Philadelphia appears set to be aggressive yet again to build around a core of Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Wheeler.