After the disappointing news regarding Anthony Rendon from Wednesday night, the Dodgers remain in the market for a third basemen. Justin Turner is still serviceable at the hot corner, but the Dodgers seem inclined to add a fresh face there and move Justin Turner over to first.
Josh Donaldson is still available, and the Dodgers are reportedly keeping in touch with him. However, reports from Thursday morning have Donaldson fetching a four-year, $100M+ contract, something Andrew Friedman will most likely be hesitant to give out.
Rosenthal on MLB Network right now: Donaldson "four years" at "at least $25M a year." Take that how you will. Also says Rangers are out.
— Budmañ006 (@bud006) December 12, 2019
When turning to the trade block certain names stick out such as Francisco Lindor (which would push Corey Seager to third, assuming he isn’t moved in the deal) and Nolan Arenado, but both seem extremely unlikely. A more reasonable trade target that would make sense for both sides:
The Cubs have dug themselves into a hole where they are looking to shed payroll. They already paid the luxury tax last season, and don’t seem willing to again, which would harshen the penalties.
Shedding the bad contracts of Tyler Chatwood or Craig Kimbrel would cost the Cubs prospects, something they don’t have much of in terms of quality. Moving Jose Quintana would be fairly easy, but the return would be relatively small, and still does not give the Cubs much salary relief. Trading Bryant on the other hand, projected to make roughly $19 million, would accomplish several things for the Cubs: shedding significant payroll, maximizing return, and planning for the future. Hence, why his name has come up so often over the past week.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 11, 2019
Bryant would be a terrific get for Los Angeles. Over the past five seasons, he has remained both durable and consistent, accumulating 27.8 fWAR in 706 games. He has also posted a wRC+ of at least 125 every single year, solidifying himself as one of the best players in the league.
Here is where the Dodgers enter.
Much like with a potential Mookie Betts trade, the Dodgers have a surplus of what would make sense for the Cubs in return: young, cost-controlled players who can contribute immediately. Chicago has far too much talent to engage in a full-on rebuild, meaning they need cheap youth to keep the team competitive while saving them money.
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Dustin May and Gavin Lux are almost certainly off-limits. With that in mind, I believe a package consisting of Keibert Ruiz, Jeter Downs, Edwin Rios, DJ Peters, and Dennis Santana would get the deal done. Parting with Ruiz would be particularly tough, but worth it when considering the MVP level-caliber player coming back in return.
Moreover, it would allow Chicago to look at also moving catcher Willson Contreras — an All-Star with a rising cost — in another big haul.
Bryant has two years left of control (assuming his grievance is unsuccessful), which would cover his age 28 and 29 seasons, typically the prime window for position players. As for his fit with the Dodgers, Bryant provides a right handed bat badly needed in a lineup that is lefty-heavy. Defensively, he would primarily play third base, sliding Turner to first, Muncy to second, and Gavin Lux into a super utility role.
Dave Roberts also said you could see Gavin Lux “on the grass” in 2020. The grass is the outfield. #GavinOnTheGrass
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) December 11, 2019
When considering the Cubs desire to shed payroll, maximize their return on Bryant, and still remain competitive in 2020, a trade with the Dodgers works well for both sides. It isn’t exactly Andrew Friedman’s MO to part with young talent, especially in the off-season. But given a player of Bryant’s caliber, an exception should be made. It remains to be seen just how serious the Cubs actually are regarding Bryant’s availability, but a trade for the 2016 NL MVP could salvage the off-season.