The hot stove is heating up as the Winter Meetings begin in San Diego this week. The Philadelphia Phillies added starter Zach Wheeler prior to the meetings beginning, but ideally need to add another rotation arm along with an infielder and some relief pitchers.
If the Phillies are unable to find solutions in free agency, they could look towards the trade market to upgrade their roster. One name that has been on the Phillies radar before is Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.
According to Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM and 670thescore.com, the Cubs have had talks with the Phillies on Bryant, but nothing serious has developed. One of the issues in the way of any deal with Bryant is his current service time grievance against Major League Baseball.
Any time spent on the 25-man roster, active or injured, counts as service time. Players get one year of service when they tally 172 days in a season. After three years of service time, the player is eligible for salary arbitration. Per the Chicago Tribune, Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, and the MLBPA believe that Bryant began the 2015 season in Triple-A so the Cubs could drag out the beginning of his service time clock at the big league level.
Bryant is under team control for two more seasons, but MLB Insider Jon Heyman notes that an arbitrator has to decide whether he will be a free agent in year one or year two. That decision could still be weeks away.
In 147 games for the Cubs last season, Bryant slashed .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs and 77 RBIs while posting an fWAR of 4.8 Last season, the 2016 National League MVP earned $12.9 million and his 2020 number could eclipse $18 million.
When it comes to constructing a trade package for Bryant, the Phillies would almost certainly have to part with at least one of Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard. It would likely take a couple more top prospects, whether it be a guy like Adonis Medina, Mickey Moniak or Bryson Stott. One has to wonder if the Phillies have enough young talent to get a deal done. Jon Heyman mentions that the Braves are another team that would be a good trade fit for Bryant and their minor league system has more attractive options than the Phillies.
Still, the belief is that the Phillies could go short-term at third base with Alec Bohm in the wings. That being said, if Bryant is available for a price they can meet, the Phils might include Bohm in a deal to make it work. They could also find a suitor for Rhys Hoskins, or include him in a potential deal for Bryant.
At this point, it looks like talks between the Cubs and any team on Bryant will be preliminary with a grievance on file, so it appears we might have to wait until after the Winter Meetings for more news on a potential trade for the four-time All-Star.
In five seasons with the Cubs, Bryant is slashing .284/.385/.521 with 167 doubles and 138 home runs. He’s also close friends with Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, which is never a bad thing.
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