Tampa Bay Rays trade target: Kris Bryant, Cubs 3B/OF
By Kasey Kuhrts
It’s time for another Tampa Bay Rays trade target from Rays Colored Glasses. This one would be a major move, but something that could be done. We think it would take a very good young player to get it done, but getting Kris Bryant could make this team a World Series favorite.
The Cubs are selling, and that is no secret. However, the issue with that is everyone knows it. The Cubs are likely getting tons of offers for Bryant, so the Rays would have to make their offer stand out. But before we get into that, let’s look at why Kris Bryant is worth the price tag he has.
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Who is Kris Bryant?
Kris Bryant was a super prospect for the Chicago Cubs when he was called up in 2015. Since then, Bryant has won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year award, been named an NL All-Star four times, won the 2016 NL MVP award, and was a key member of the 2016 Cubs World Series Championship team. In short, he’s a Chicago hero.
However, his game has changed over the years. Bryant broke in as a third baseman and played most of his early career there. However, now Bryant plays all over. So far in 2021, Bryant has played games at 3B, RF, LF, CF, and 1B. Tell me that doesn’t sound like a perfect player for the Rays.
At the plate, Bryant is a career .279 hitter, with 158 home runs and 462 RBIs in seven seasons. At only 29, Bryant has the chance to be one of the all-time greats.
This season, Bryant is slashing .264/.346/.489 with a .834 OPS, 127 OPS +, and 2.0 WAR. Bryant has 16 homers to go with his 48 RBIs and 53 runs scored.
Why should the Rays trade for Kris Bryant?
It’s simple really, he’s really good at baseball.
It’s more than that, this guy plays all over the field, and hits. And he hits left-handed pitching. The Rays have struggled to hit left-handed pitching this season. Our own Alex Murphy broke down the numbers.
Let’s go back to Bryant. He’s slashing .333/.407/.694 with a 1.102 OPS off LHP this season. Seven of his 16 homers have come off left-handed pitchers, imagine what he could do for this lineup.
What would the Rays have to trade for Kris Bryant?
Now, let’s get back to this. I said at the top the Rays would have to give up a good young player for Bryant, but by looking at other mock offers for Bryant, I believe this deal could get Kris to St. Pete.
Alright, hear me out, folks. Taylor Walls has a bright future, I understand. But the depth the Rays have at shortstop in the majors, and minors is very deep. Walls is only hitting .216 right now for the Rays, but he is getting on base at a high clip.
Along with Bryant, the Cubs are looking to move Javier Baez, their starting shortstop. They already have a very good young infielder in Nico Hoerner, so pairing him with Walls would be a solid middle infield to build on for the Cubs.
Moving to the pitchers, the Cubs have multiple RHP prospects in their top-30, but only one of them is pitching above Single-A Advanced. Both Brent Honeywell, the number 16 prospect in the Rays system, and Tommy Romero, the number 30 prospect in the Rays system, pitch in AAA.
Giving the Cubs MLB ready pitching, along with a promising young shortstop in Walls, might be enough to get Bryant to St. Pete.
However, this needs to be said. Kris Bryant is a rental. Bryant will be a free agent after the 2021 season and will command a ton of money. Likely much more than the Rays will pay. Although he would be a perfect player for the Rays to build on, it is very unlikely Bryant would be in Tampa long-term.
However, Imagine this lineup for the rest of the season:
Joey Wendle SS
Kris Bryant LF
Kevin Kiermaier/Manuel Margot CF
We can dream, right? Because this is scary folks.
We have more Tampa Bay Rays trade targets coming up next week, as I believe the Rays should consider getting both a pitcher and hitter at the deadline.