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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest on Kris Bryant Amid Braves' Pursuit of Josh Donaldson

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 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 Atlanta Braves have made the playoffs as National League East champions two years in a row just to lose in the first round. They could use a major bat to help them get over the hump, and someone who would perfectly fit that bill is reportedly on their radar.

According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com, Braves manager Brian Snitker thinks Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant would "fit in perfectly" with his team.

"The chatter around Bryant has been steady" an executive told Rogers at Major League Baseball's winter meetings.

It is no wonder Snitker believes Bryant would be an ideal fit. He is in the middle of his prime and will be 28 years old this season and already has a resume that includes the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year, 2016 NL MVP and a 2016 World Series crown. The three-time All-Star slashed .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI last season.

Bryant would fit in with the win-now Braves that already made a splash this offseason by signing pitchers Cole Hamels and Will Smith, as well as catcher Travis d'Arnaud.

Bryant would be the biggest addition of them all, although Rogers pointed out the Braves are "focused on" potentially re-signing Josh Donaldson before they truly explore a Bryant trade.

Donaldson figures to be the next piece off the board on the third-base market after the Los Angeles Angels signed Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245 million deal Wednesday, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Rogers' sources suggested Donaldson could sign with the Washington Nationals or Texas Rangers as well, which could open the door for a Bryant-to-Atlanta trade.

Of course, Chicago is also in the middle of a contending window and would likely demand plenty of talent back in return.

Trading Bryant doesn't make much sense on paper given his ability and the team's competitive window, but Rogers pointed out the Cubs will have trouble paying the sheer number of marquee players set for free agency within the next two years and could restock their farm system with a Bryant trade.

There is the detail of Bryant's service time seeing how he filed a grievance that Rogers said will likely be resolved in January.

Buster Olney of ESPN noted "some teams are concerned" that Bryant could make $45 million the next two years depending on the result of the grievance. 

"The teams might have to agree on two deals, one with less service time in mind and one for two years," Rogers wrote

That may be what it takes for the Braves to bring a proven World Series champion into the fold as they pursue a championship of their own in 2020.