The MLB winter meetings are already off to a flying start in San Diego.
The Washington Nationals got the ball rolling by re-signing World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg to a seven-year, $245 million deal, setting off a potential chain reaction of events that might alter the markets of pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner as well as the way in which a number of teams proceed.
But while the free-agent market is looking explosive, the trade scene has been a bit mum. Still, there are a number of front offices facing potentially crucial decisions in the coming weeks as they try to navigate issues like payroll and personnel needs.
Here are the latest trade rumors coming out of California, including talks surrounding a pair of superstars.
Phillies Talking With Cubs About Kris Bryant
The Philadelphia Phillies were one of the first teams to make a major move when they signed right-handed starter Zack Wheeler to a multiyear deal. However, they are still in the market for a third baseman after they non-tendered Maikel Franco.
Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM and 670thescore.com reported the Phillies engaged the Chicago Cubs in talks for Kris Bryant, but he also noted negotiations have gone nowhere because of the player's pending grievance case that could make him a free agent after the upcoming season, rather than in 2021.
Bryant, a former National League MVP, recovered from an injury-riddled season to post a productive 2019 campaign. The 27-year-old slashed .282/.382/.521 with 31 homers.
The Phillies would probably love to add him to a lineup that already contains Bryce Harper and J.T Realmuto, but there might be obstacles other than the grievance issue.
Philadelphia traded away some of its top prospects to acquire Realmuto, while the Cubs are hoping to reposition by acquiring high-level prospects after draining their own farm.
Indians Not Looking to Trade Lindor
Bryant isn't the only superstar who has created cause for speculation. The Cleveland Indians will eventually face an important decision on shortstop Francisco Lindor, who will be a free agent after 2021.
Indians owner Paul Dolan said Cleveland fans should "enjoy" the 26-year-old while they still have him, mostly because the team has insisted it will not hike up the payroll to accommodate one long-term deal.
Lindor might be one of the most valuable trade commodities in the game, a switch-hitting infielder who can hit for power and average while also playing one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
However, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Indians would "prefer not" to trade Lindor this offseason, making him more likely to be part of the Opening Day lineup.
Although the Indians might be able to recoup some top prospects in exchange for the Puerto Rican native, they are also still in position to possibly trade Corey Kluber in order to shed payroll, particularly because they have had so much success with homegrown pitchers such as Shane Bieber.
Still, Lindor's trade value will likely not be as high at the end of the 2020 season given he will be entering a walk year (take Mookie Betts, for example), so he could be a name that pops back up at the July trade deadline.
Cubs Seeking Trades to Shed Money
Bryant might not be the only Cub in danger of being traded.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Cubs have been telling "even low-budget" free agents they are trying to move money around before they have the capacity to negotiate.
These apparent budgetary constraints help explain why ESPN's Jeff Passan said the Cubs were "manic" and "obvious" in their desire to make a trade.
Chicago might feel the need to upgrade in center field after ranking 21st in fWAR at that position last season (they might also prefer to start Jason Heyward in right). It also has to replace Cole Hamels in the rotation and find some arms in the relief market with Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler and Pedro Strop all free agents.
However, it seems the North Siders might have to get creative in order to make the money work and fill some of their holes before Spring Training.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.