"At times, no," Bryant said on Barstool Sports' Red Line Radio (via Jesse Rogers of ESPN) when asked about whether he's taking joy from his job. "It really got to me sometimes. The stuff I was hearing. The first trade rumors [in 2018] that started to pop up really got to me. I find myself [thinking,] 'Man is this even fun anymore? Why did I start playing this game?' Because it was fun."
Bryant is due to hit free agency in 2022 after having settled on a one-year, $19.5 million deal with the Cubs for the upcoming season.
Much like Mookie Betts with the Boston Red Sox and Francisco Lindor in Cleveland, Bryant's exit from Chicago feels inevitable. The only question is whether the Cubs trade him now—likely for a relatively meager return—or lose him next offseason.
The franchise already offloaded Yu Darvish. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer told reporters the financial ramifications—Darvish makes $59 million over the next three years—were not a "focus." At the very least, the trade made the Cubs worse in the short term, and that can be a tough pill to swallow for the fanbase after watching the team make the playoffs in five of the last six years.
Bryant, meanwhile, is stuck knowing the Cubs probably would've offloaded him already if they had their way. ESPN's Buster Olney described the three-time All-Star as "all but untradeable because of his bad 2020 and projected $19 million salary."
When the Cubs were lifting the Commissioner's Trophy in 2016, Bryant probably imagined being a long-term part of their foundation. He was 24 and had established himself as one of MLB's best players.
Given how drastically things have changed, it's not surprisingly to hear how much the circumstances are weighing on him.