Kris Bryant, the Cubs’ other best trading chips – NBC Chicago
Kimbrel, Bryant, and Cubs’ Other Best Trading Tokens originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
How quickly things can change.
Less than a month ago, the Cubs were ready to be buyers by the MLB trade deadline of July 30. They held a share of the top spot in NL Central on June 14 and played a high of 11 games over 0.500 (38-27).
An 11-game losing streak and 6-19 losses later, they are in sell mode.
“It’s a very different scenario from what we expected,” team president Jed Hoyer said last Thursday. “Life is coming to you quickly.”
With a number of players in the running years, the Cubs roster is teeming with potential rentals for vying clubs.
Here is a look at some of the best Cubs trading tokens.
Craig Kimbrel, closer
Need a closer elite to lock in the ninth round down the stretch and into October? Look no further than Kimbrel, in the midst of a resurgence season on the North Side.
Kimbrel, 33, just made his eighth career all-star team behind a dominant first half. He allowed two earned runs in 31 2/3 innings, converting 20 saves (fifth in MLB) on 22 chances. His 15.35 strikeouts by nine are the third among relievers (minimum 30 innings).
Kimbrel could be the missing piece in a competitor’s pen – and more than a rental. His contract includes a $ 16 million vesting option for 2022 which becomes a club option, if not vested.
Kris Bryant, third baseman / outfielder
Bryant’s name is nothing new for exchanging rumors. He’s been a staple with them for the past few years, including this last offseason.
Like Kimbrel, Bryant put on a big rebounding season in 2021. He was the Cubs’ leading hitter, slicing .271 / .353 / .502 with 16 home runs while making his fourth all-star team.
Not only is Bryant a big bat, he’s a versatile defenseman, starting more than 10 games at five positions this season – third and first base, and all three outfield spots. This only increases his market, if not the return the Cubs could get for him.
Bryant, who is set to become a free agent this winter, is the Cubs’ No.1 trading chip among their position players, if not overall.
Javy BÃ¡ez, shortstop
From a value perspective, BÃ¡ez brings a lot to the table, especially for a team that could use a defensive upgrade. He’s electric on the pitch, winning a Golden Glove on shortstop last season. He has a lot of experience at second base and played third earlier in his career.
BÃ¡ez is a free trader and leads the MLB at bat. He’s also got a strong bat – his 21 home runs are 12th in MLB and his 56 RBIs are 20th – and would bolster the mid-range of any team.
BÃ¡ez is one of the Cubs’ biggest trading chips, but he’s a fan favorite and has explained how he wants to stay with the Cubs. The same goes for Anthony Rizzo, the face of the franchise and another business chip.
Willson Contreras, wide receiver
Teams have shown interest in Contreras in recent winters, including the Marlins this past offseason, and for good reason. When it comes to pure value, it could be as high as anyone on this list.
Contreras is as complete a receiver as any other player. He has mastered the running game, has significantly improved his framing and is a good hitter. He is an established leader in the clubhouse and under club control at a good price until 2022.
However, these are all good reasons for the Cubs to hang on to him and expand him to be a part of their core for years to come.
Whether the Cubs even consider trading Contreras may depend on whether there is an urgent demand for him.
Andrew Chafin, reliever
As a left-handed reliever who is enjoying a career year, Chafin is suitable for all contenders. He’s been there with Kimbrel among the best relievers in baseball this season.
Chafin’s 1.42 ERA is sixth among the relievers, with a minimum of 30 innings. He has been turned off in the past three months, allowing one earned run in 30 appearances since April 26. His current streak of 23 scoreless innings is the longest of any reliever this season.
Chafin’s contract has a mutual option of $ 5.25 million for 2022, or a buyout of $ 500,000, so there is a possibility that it would be a two-month lease if swapped.
Joc Pederson, outfielder
Pederson has had an eventful season. After a slow start in April, it hit well in May before seeing a dip in June, like the Cubs’ offense overall.
Pederson joined the Cubs on a one-year contract that allowed him to play every day. Historically, he crushed right-handed pitching and struggled against left-handed people.
This season, he’s hit better against lefties, although his 11 home runs have been right-handed. His record could attract contenders looking to bolster their attack on right-handed pitchers. He has a mutual option for 2022.
Zach Davies is expected to arrive in free agency this winter and beginner pitchers are in high demand. He’s been solid since May (3.05 ERA, 14 starts) and is a veteran arm that could be affordable on hire.
Jake Marisnick has had a lot of playoff experience since his time with the Astros and is a quality defenseman in the outfield.
You can never have enough good lifters. Outside of a recent stretch, Ryan Tepera has been one of the best in the game this season.