This Trade Deadline Could Break Up The Cubs’ Almost-Dynasty

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FiveThirtyEight 16 July, 2021 - 12:02pm 5 views

When is the MLB trade deadline?

Major League Baseball's trade deadline is approaching more quickly than usual. This year's deadline is set for 4 p.m. ET on Friday, July 30, or a day earlier than the traditional date. CBS sports.comMLB trade deadline 2021: Kris Bryant, Max Scherzer, Trevor Story among 21 top trade candidates

Who did the Cubs trade?

The Chicago Cubs have traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Bryce Ball, the teams announced on Thursday. In 73 games for Chicago this year, Pederson slashed .230/.300/.418 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. The AthleticCubs trade Joc Pederson to Braves for prospect Bryce Ball

MLB rumors: Mets among ‘multiple’ teams with trade interest in former NL MVP

silive.com 16 July, 2021 - 02:02pm

The New York Mets sit in first place in the National League East with two weeks remaining until the July 30 trade deadline. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports Mets general manager Zack Scott is working hard to upgrade his roster between now and then.

Bryant’s resume speaks for itself: the 2016 National League MVP is a four-time All-Star with a World Series ring (2016). But the Chicago Cubs (44-46), sitting in third place in the National League Central (eight games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers), are expecting to be trade deadline sellers. The fire sale started Thursday when the Cubs sent outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves.

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According to Spotrac, Bryant is making $19.5 million this season, after which he will be a free agent. The 29-year-old is hitting .271 this season with 16 home runs and 46 RBI.

Also on the trade market for the Cubs are closer Craig Kimbrel, starter Zach Davies and shortstop Javier Baez.

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After Months of Questions, the Cubs Should Trade Kris Bryant

Bleacher Report 16 July, 2021 - 06:00am

Kris Bryant was the hero Chicago needed.

The ascent of the Chicago Cubs' third baseman and outfielder was quick but expected for a player of his caliber. Bryant won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top college player in 2013 coming out of the University of San Diego. He was the Cubs' minor league player of the year in 2014, the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the NL MVP in 2016, the same year he helped the team break their 108-year World Series drought. 

He was billed a hero from the minute he was drafted by the Cubs and he made good on that potential. 

But now he has the potential to play the same role for another team this season. 

Chicago is looking like a seller as the July 30 trade deadline approaches. As of Thursday, the Cubs are 44-46 and 8.0 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. The club traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night, further fueling rumors of the impending fire sale that have dogged the team since the winter because of the club's failures to lock up key members of its core long-term.

Bryant came to terms with the team on a one-year deal prior to the 2021 season, following the advice of agent Scott Boras to opt for yearly pay increases instead of a long-term contract while still under team control. 

President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer all but said the Cubs are looking ahead at a future that probably doesn't include the homegrown trio. 

"When you're in this moment and your playoff odds get into single digits at this time of year, you have to keep one eye on the future and think about what moves you can potentially make that can help build the next great Cubs team," Hoyer told reporters before the All-Star break. "I think you have to think through those things. I think it'd be irresponsible not to take those phone calls and think through it."

Should the Cubs trade Bryant? From a pure player standpoint, the answer is no. The 29-year-old Bryant effectively rebounded from the worst season of his career to put up All-Star numbers this year. He went into the break slashing .273/.353/.502 with a 0.854 OPS and 16 home runs. A player like that could be influential in helping the Cubs put together a few winning streaks that would allow them to climb back into the NL Wild Card race. Chicago is 7.5 games behind the San Diego Padres for the second Wild Card spot, which isn't an unrealistic amount of games to make up. 

The Cincinnati Reds (bad bullpen), the Philadelphia Phillies (even worse bullpen) and the Atlanta Braves (without Ronald Acuna Jr.) are the teams that stand between the Cubs and the Padres. 

Hoyer said the club isn't looking to undergo an entire rebuild as it did in 2012. He wants the team to be able to contend again within a few years. Locking up Bryant to a multi-year contract would allow Chicago to retool quickly instead of undergoing an entire rebuild. The club could bring in some pieces to build around Bryant instead of alienating the fanbase by trading away the best player and creating discord between the team and the public. 

Sounds nice, right? It's a romantic notion to think Bryant might want to keep playing for the only team he's ever known. But it's too romantic and probably unrealistic. 

The Cubs have been inconsistent and streaky. A 19-8 record in May had the Cubs in good position to become buyers. Even midway through June when the team had won six of seven, including five straight, the team looked like it had saved the front office from having to trade away any of its stars.  

But then they lost 11 straight. They went 2-8 over the final 10 games before the All-Star break. Fangraphs gave the Cubbies a 4.0 percent chance to reach the playoffs at the All-Star mark.

The rumors were swirling in Denver at the midsummer classic. 

Bryant, one of two Cubs selected to the NL All-Star Team (closer Craig Kimbrel was also named an All-Star), couldn't even dodge them while he was playing in the actual game, with Joe Buck asking him about them while he was wearing a microphone for the FOX broadcast. Bryant's father, Mike, was not happy about this. 

Even Kimbrel couldn't escape the trade rumors. The closer has returned to old form and his contract has an option for 2022, as does pitcher Jake Arrieta and outfielders Jake Marisnick and Joc Pederson. The Cubs have a lot of tradable assets that could return some players who are big league-ready, if not close to it, that would fit his timeline of contention within the next few years. 

So, if Hoyer thinks a reset is in order, then yes, he should absolutely trade Bryant, Rizzo, Baez and Kimbrel. Pricey rentals? Absolutely, so it might be more difficult to trade Rizzo and Baez. But Bryant brings tremendous value and versatility between his bat and his defense at multiple positions. If the club can't figure out a way to keep him past this season, then trade him and start the retool. 

The New York Yankees need corner outfield help. The New York Mets need a third baseman more defensively sound than J.D. Davis. The Washington Nationals haven't received much production out of the third base position since Anthony Rendon left after the 2019 season and the Cubs' divisional rivals in Milwaukee could use an upgrade at the position as well. 

What would a trade for Bryant look like? Manny Machado's move to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018 netted the Baltimore Orioles a package of five prospects centered around minor league outfielder Yusniel Diaz. None of those players have become productive major leaguers yet. 

That risk is always there when trading a player, but Hoyer would be wise not to follow in the footsteps of former Orioles general manager Dan Duquette or former Colorado Rockies GM Jeff Bridich, who traded third baseman Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals for what is largely viewed to be a subprime package of prospects. 

Get major league-caliber players and a third baseman back in return. 

It's the end of an era in Chicago. Bryant gets to go try to play the role of hero for someone else now. 

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Kris Bryant trade chatter, a trade proposal, and myth busting

Bleed Cubbie Blue 15 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

The trade deadline is 15 days away.

About five or six entirely valid outlooks on this possibility exist. I'd imagine a few hinge on whether you have money spent on remaining Cubs games this year, but I appreciate any response, from "extend him" to "trade him" and any of the variations. However, as I geared for the 2021 Draft, one of the popular comments rang a little bit hollow. I'm here to bust a myth regarding trading Bryant, but I hold no animosity if "give him a lifetime contract" is your preferred option.

For various reasons, for about three weeks before the draft, few things mattered less. Few things mattered, at all. Forcing myself to be interested in a topic has rarely worked.

About 20 hours before the draft, I started to care, again. Oddly, and very uncharacteristically, the 20/80 rankings drew me back. On draft day, there might be a 50 guy or two. After that come the 45+ guys, then the 45s. The 40+ guys follow, then the 40s, and the 35+ types.

In effect, the 45 grade is a "first round grade." This cycle, there were a few under 30, with about 15 more 40+ types. After that, come a looooooooong string of 40s, and a longer string of 35s.

Different years will be different, but 45 is generally first round grade. The way the compensation is set up (for now), if the Cubs keep Bryant and make him a Qualifying Offer, they'd get a draft pick in 2022 (if the QO is declined) in the range of pick 70. Give or take. Not 110. Not 26. Not 44. About 70.

The compensation for one Bryant would be one choice amid a bunch of 40 grades. Could the Cubs get lucky? Yes. Could they get very unlucky? Yes. 40s are what they are. They're rather good lottery ticket types, but a 40 is a 40. It could be a Prep bat 40, or a College arm 40, but it's a 40. 40s are similar, but not the same.

Amidst my trade chatter, what one often finds is "when both sides disagree, you're close." If the Mets fan and Cubs fan are at full-throat on a trade, it might be kind of close. However, what seems more useful, is near agreement.

A recent report had the Cubs scouting St. Lucie Mets games. It could be bogus, or accurate for a different trade. (Andrew Chafin or Joc Pederson, for example.) I've developed enough of a rapport with a few people on Twitter that I floated a trade idea.

How about Bryant for two of Jaylen Palmer (infielder at St. Lucie), Alex Ramirez (an outfielder at St. Lucie), and Robert Dominguez (a pitcher at the St. Lucie compound)? I know many of you might hate that trade. Which was very problematic. Until Sunday morning.

The question wasn't: "Would Cubs fans like the trade?" The question became: "What are the rankings of those prospects?" Especially since so many Mets fans consider that a tolerable loss, since it keeps their top seven prospects.

Whether you like that trade proposal or not, and I'm fine with you demanding more, these are the Fangraphs values for the players in question.

Whether this agreeable trade to Mets fans is acceptable to you or not, two 40 prospects (the worst of the trade options) are better than the expected 40 draft value return for around pick 70 in 2022. Which is if the Cubs qualify for the pick or not (due to labor strife). A 40 and a 40, or a 40 and a 40+ are likely a better payoff than the 70th pick in the 2022 Draft.

You can hate Tom Ricketts forever, or disregard baseball economics entirely. If the Cubs’ parting gift for Bryant going elsewhere is any better than a 40 prospect, however you'd assess that, it's a better deal than pick 70. Pretty much any other argument still might have some degree of weight. Thinking the Cubs will get better than one 40 grade prospect on draft day for compensation for losing Bryant shouldn't. Nor should "two 40s or a 40+ and a 40" being worse than "a 40."

However, being disgusted by ownership not wanting to keep Kris Bryant is entirely valid.

Kris Bryant's father didn't like Joe Buck asking about trade rumors during MLB All-Star Game telecast Kris Bryant's father didn't like Joe Buck asking about trade rumors during MLB All-Star Game telecast

Awful Announcing 15 July, 2021 - 11:45am

Major League Baseball players being mic’ed up on the field for in-game interviews was a big part of Fox’s All-Star Game coverage Tuesday night.

While it was fun to get a glimpse of the players’ personalities outside of the often rote answers provided during postgame interviews and some insight into the game, at least one All-Star’s father did not appreciate the line of questioning coming from play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck.

During the seventh inning, Buck interviewed Kris Bryant while he was playing left field. And he started the conversation by asking the free-agent-to-be about the possibility of the Chicago Cubs dealing him off before the July 30 MLB trade deadline.

“As we sit here now, in the middle of July,” asked Buck, “not knowing where you’re going to be at the end of July, how do you keep your concentration through all that?”

Bryant first replied by saying that playing various positions around the field helps him focus. Maybe that was a bit of a dodge, but he then said he’s a Cub as long as he wears that uniform and is proud to do so. Several Cubs fans were annoyed by Buck’s question. After all, Bryant was in Denver representing the Cubs. Why talk about him playing for a different team?

Kris Bryant says playing all over the place helps block out some of the noise to focus.

"Right now, I still got the Cubs on my chest and I'm proud of that. Proud to play for such an unbelievable city. And until they tell me I'm not, I'm gonna go out there and give it all I got." pic.twitter.com/MkTgaLBP81

— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) July 14, 2021

Among those upset was Bryant’s father, Mike, who was in attendance at Coors Field but heard about the interview later. When asked about it by Cubs Insider’s Evan Altman (via Midway Minute), Mike Bryant expressed his displeasure with his son being confronted with trade rumors on live TV.

Bryant went on to say that Buck should apologize to his son for putting him on the spot.

Related: White Sox closer Liam Hendriks has expletive-filled inning mic’d up on Fox All-Star Game broadcast 

Joe Buck asking Kris Bryant about the Cubs' 11-game losing streak and the possibility of him being traded while actively playing in the All-Star game was a disgusting act.

— Major League GIFs (@MajorLeagueGIFs) July 14, 2021

Yet would Buck have been doing his job had he not addressed the main topic regarding Bryant? He had the Cubs star on the microphone and an opportunity to ask a question that the national TV audience probably had on its mind too. Perhaps the setting wasn’t ideal, but that’s the circumstance in which Buck and Bryant were placed.

And if Buck had just asked goofy, softball questions to Bryant, he probably would’ve been knocked by fans and critics for that. “Hey Kris, is Coors a beer you like to drink?” Or as Midway Minute’s Kevin Kaduk suggested, what if Buck had asked Bryant about trying Rocky Mountain Oysters? Maybe Mike Bryant would’ve been OK with that, but most others probably would’ve called Buck a hack.

Even at the All-Star Game, the Cubs' Craig Kimbrel and Kris Bryant couldn't avoid questions about the looming trade deadline.

"At the end of the day," Kimbrel said, "that’s not a decision that I make."@M_Montemurro's story from Denver.https://t.co/1Ot6qNx6rA

— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) July 13, 2021

Besides, Kris Bryant has been asked about trade rumors and pending free agency frequently since the 2021 MLB season began (and probably going back through the offseason). He faced those questions throughout All-Star festivities. It’s a pertinent topic, considering Bryant’s standing as the cornerstone of a team five seasons removed from winning a World Series. Such players often stay with a team during their entire careers.

So if Mike Bryant is really expecting an apology from Buck, he’s very likely to be disappointed. And though fans find plenty to for which to criticize him, Buck did nothing wrong and has no reason to apologize.

Related: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. crushes ridiculous 468-foot home run in All-Star Game debut

[Midway Minute]

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

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This is very much not how to make a game feel important.

Previously, an annual subscription cost $59.99.

The children's network continues to pursue a young football audience.

The Open Championship continues on Golf Channel

Michael Vick and Emmanuel Acho are potential replacements for Gonzalez on Fox NFL Kickoff.

"I'm so excited to bring the game to fans alongside some of the most intelligent, powerful women in the industry."

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