A swap of All-Star third basemen has reportedly been discussed by the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs ahead of the 2020 MLB season.
According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers on NBC Sports Chicago's Kap and Co. (h/t Tim Stebbins of NBC Sports Chicago), the Rockies and Cubs have entertained the thought of a one-for-one trade that would send Nolan Arenado to Chicago and Kris Bryant to Colorado.
Arenado is signed through 2026 with a player option after 2021, while Bryant can also become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2021 season after he lost his grievance against the Cubs in an attempt to hit free agency following the 2020 campaign.
Rogers added that as part of the trade talks, the possibility that the Rockies would pick up a portion of Arenado's salary—in the neighborhood of $7 million to $8 million per season—has been discussed as well.
Rogers said: "That's how much they need to get rid of Arenado and he wants out."
With trade rumors making the rounds last week, Arenado sent the following text to MLB.com: "There's a lot of disrespect from people there that I don't want to be a part of. You can quote that."
ESPN's Jeff Passan has since reported that Arenado is frustrated with the Rockies' "inaction" and apparent lack of desire to add pieces to make the team a playoff contender after it went just 71-91 last season.
Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million contract extension less than a year ago, and he is not only the Rockies' best player but also one of the top players in all of baseball.
The 28-year-old veteran is a five-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner and four-time Silver Slugger award winner. He has also finished eighth or better in the National League MVP voting in each of the past five seasons.
Arenado is coming off a 2019 campaign that saw him hit .315 with 41 home runs and 118 RBI. He hasn't finished with worse than a .287 batting average, 37 homers or 110 RBI in any of the past five seasons.
Unlike Arenado, the 28-year-old Bryant has an NL MVP award, winning it in 2016 after hitting .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI. He is also a three-time All-Star, and he led the Cubs to a World Series title in 2016.
Bryant's numbers dropped off in 2017 and 2018, but he bounced back to some degree last season with a .282 average, 31 home runs and 77 RBI. The Cubs missed the playoffs, though, and he has never come close to replicating what he did in his MVP season.
Bryant could regain his MVP form in Colorado, but trading a disgruntled third baseman who can become a free agent in two years for another player who can become a free agent in two years may not be the best course for the Rockies.
If anything, general manager Jeff Bridich needs to land a collection of talented pitching prospects to make trading Arenado worth it.