FILE PHOTO: Sep 1, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) celebrates with team mates after a victory against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
Kris Bryant figured to be one the Chicago Cubs’ young cornerstones, but the team is now open to trading him, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
The Cubs have reportedly been telling teams that nearly every player on the team — including Bryant — is available.
He rejected a long-term contract extension offer from the Cubs worth at least $200 million last month, according to multiple reports.
Bryant, a 26-year-old third baseman and outfielder, won the National League Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the league’s Most Valuable Player award the following season, when the Cubs won the World Series.
The Cubs have underperformed in the years since, and now president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is reportedly concerned about a lack of prospects in the farm system. Trading Bryant could give the team payroll flexibility and an infusion of younger talent.
He is under club control through 2021. He earned $10.85 million in 2018, the most ever awarded to a first-year, arbitration-eligible player. Bryant is eligible for arbitration for three more years and won’t hit the free agent market until 2022 at age 30.
Because of a lingering shoulder injury, he appeared in just 102 games in the 2018 season. Bryant had 13 home runs and 52 RBIs and hit .272, all career lows. In his MVP season, he hit 39 home runs with 102 RBIs and a .292 average.
This is not the first time that Bryant and the Cubs’ front office have disagreed. In 2015, the Cubs kept him in the minor leagues longer than he wanted to have an extra year of control on his contract. Had they not, he could have been eligible for free agency a year earlier.
—Field Level Media