John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station Tweeted that he has “heard some rumblings of Dbacks at least exploring a Kris Bryant trade.” There’s not much more information, such as what the parameters of such a trade might be. It is known that the Cubs are looking to make moves, potentially involving the third-baseman. But not mentioned by Gambo: the process is basically stalled for now, due to a pending service-time grievance case filed by Bryant in 2015. A decision is finally expected in the coming weeks. Depending on who wins, Bryant will either have one year or two years of control left. It’s a pretty significant difference, one which will factor heavily into a trade return.
It does seem like a bit of a stretch, purely on the basis of salary. Bryant avoided arbitration with the Cubs at the end of last week, agreeing on a deal worth $18.6 million this year. There’s currently no certainty as to the D-backs’ intended payroll for 2020, but according to God-Emperor of the Spreadsheet, Jack, “When I said I thought they only had about 5M left to work with, I was guessing they are really looking at a 120M budget, not 125. If it’s only 120, they should still have 7M left.” However, if the team trades for Bryant, then I can only presume Jake Lamb and his $5.55 million deal would largely be cut, freeing up more. It’s still hard to see from where all of the $18.6 million for Bryant would come.
This move would shift Eduardo Escobar back to second-base, and basically locks Ketel Marte in as the everyday center-fielder for 2020. It would certainly be a bit of an upgrade for this year, to put it mildly. STEAMER projects Bryant to be worth 4.6 WAR this year, compared to Lamb’s 1.0 WAR. But what might the cost be in prospects? That, along with the outcome of Bryant’s grievance case, likely determines whether or not this would be a wise move for Arizona. Mike Hazen has shown a willingness to trade top prospects, but only in the right deal - for longer-term help, such as Zac Gallen. Would a Bryant deal work on that basis? I’m curious what kind of package you think it would take from the D-backs.