While the MLB offseason will be different with no in-person winter meetings, trades are still going to happen. And if early rumors are a good indication, several big-name players will be moved.
Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell has joined Chicago Cubs standout Kris Bryant as an All-Star on the market.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported the Rays are open to trading Snell, who turns 28 in early December. Feinsand noted Tampa is not actively shopping the pitcher but is considering a deal because of the potential return he would command.
"I'm guessing they think this is the best chance to kill it on the market," an American League executive told Feinsand.
Given Tampa is a low-budget team, stockpiling young, inexpensive talent is undoubtedly an appeal. The report mentioned the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners as interested teams.
But the conversation itself is an incredibly tough one.
Two years ago, Snell earned the AL Cy Young. This season, he posted a 3.24 ERA and helped the Rays win the American League. He's only due $39 million through 2023, per Spotrac, and that's an incredible value for a pitcher of his caliber.
However, the Rays operate on a tight budget and can justify a trade by pointing to lost revenue because of the pandemic. Snell may thrive in the remaining portion of his contract, but dealing him with three years of team control following an excellent season is basically the definition of extracting max value.
According to Feinsand, a source close to Snell said he would like to remain with the Rays. In all likelihood, he will be back in Tampa next season.
But the possibility of a trade is now an important story to know.
Bryant, meanwhile, has regularly found himself in rumors throughout the last calendar year-plus. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reported two sources confirmed the Cubs and Boston Red Sox discussed a trade for him last offseason.
Although the Boston connection is notable, the bigger story is whether Chicago actually wants to deal the 28-year-old.
Put simply, the Cubs are at a crossroads. Should they disassemble the World Series-winning core of 2016, or are they committed to making a run at a title in 2021? Bryant's immediate future may indicate the result of that decision.
Since winning Rookie of the Year in 2015 and MVP the following year, the Las Vegas native has wavered between good/better and unspectacular. Although injuries plagued him in 2020, he hit just .206 in the regular season and went 0-for-8 in the playoffs.
Next offseason, he'll be an unrestricted free agent.
Bryant has 30-homer potential and walks frequently, but the lows (strikeouts, defense) are problematic and often sustained. That alone complicates contract talks, and the ability of his agent—Scott Boras—only increases the challenge.
If the Cubs don't trade Bryant, they risk losing him for nothing in free agency. Then again, prospects are no sure thing, either. If they keep Bryant for 2021, he might leave next offseason anyway. If they extend him, it could pay off. Or the contract may look horrible in a few years.
Bryant needs a bounce-back season to restore his reputation anyway, but this is a massive decision for the future of the Cubs.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR