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Phillies Rumors: Club showing ‘exploratory interest’ in Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant won the 2016 National League MVP. (Arturo Pardavila III)

The Los Angeles Dodgers reinforced their place as the favorite to win the National League in 2020 on Monday night when they completed a megadeal that allowed them to acquire outfielder Mookie Betts and LHP David Price from the Boston Red Sox.

The Philadelphia Phillies, meanwhile, still appear to be a bubble playoff team, whether that means competing for the National League East or one of the two Wild Card spots.

Of note is that Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that with Betts off the market, another former MVP has shifted to the forefront of the trade market – Kris Bryant.

Nightengale says that both the Phillies and division-rival Washington Nationals have shown “exploratory interest” in the Chicago Cubs third baseman. It’s unclear if the Phillies interest has at all intensified since early December, when Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reported that the Phillies “had talks” with the Cubs regarding the 28-year-old third baseman, but there didn’t seem to be any traction.

Since December, we have gotten some clarity on Bryant’s status as it relates to free agency. In January, he lost his service time grievance hearing against the Cubs, meaning he has two years left of team control, as opposed to one. Any team that would trade for Bryant before the 2020 season would be guaranteed two seasons with the three-time All-Star.

It’s unclear what a trade package for Bryant would look like. The Red Sox certainly didn’t seem to get back full value for Betts, but they did land quite a bit of salary relief and avoided potentially having him walk for nothing in free agency next offseason.

Bryant isn’t as close to free agency, but that could make this the perfect time to attempt to maximize his value. That makes you think that a trade package centered around third base prospect Alec Bohm and the Phillies taking on the $18.6 million that Bryant is due this season probably wouldn’t be enough. Taking on Bryant alone would push the Phillies over the luxury tax threshold, so it’s hard to imagine them taking back a bad contract from the Cubs, one like Jason Heyward. Again, even if they did, it’s hard to tell if the Cubs would deem that as a fair return for a player that was a key member of the team that snapped a 108-year World Series drought in 2016.

Of course, if the Phillies don’t trade for Bryant, it leaves the door open for other teams to do so. Nightengale mentioned the Nationals, who lost World Series hero Anthony Rendon in free agency this offseason. The Atlanta Braves lost their star third baseman – Josh Donaldson – in free agency as well, but certainly have the type of farm system to make a competitive offer if they elect to get involved.

Cubs position players are set to report to Spring Training on Feb. 16. There’s no indication currently as to whether the team views that as a deadline if they are going to trade Bryant before the season starts.


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