The San Diego Padres appear poised to make a splash in 2020 and beyond. With Mookie Betts rumors confirmed but yet silent now, could the Padres turn their attention towards Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs?
After a few recent interviews, the Chicago Cubs made it clear they are open to trading some of their top players for prospects.
Last week, Kris Bryant was denied in his grievance for an additional year of service time. This could be huge for the San Diego Padres. If the team is not able to acquire Mookie Betts, there is theoretically another player that should be available to them if they want to make a significant move.
Let’s take a look at the Kris Bryant and see if a trade could work between the Cubs and Padres.
As one of the top hitters in the league, Bryant could bat cleanup and solidify the offensive firepower of the current Padres’ lineup.
The right-handed hitter owns a career slash line of .284/.385/.516 and a career OPS of .901. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, the NL MVP in 2016 and 2017, and is a three-time All-Star. The right-handed hitter is widely considered one of the most feared hitters in baseball. With Bryant in the lineup, a manager could even justify having a player like Austin Hedges in the lineup for defensive purposes. A top four of Fernando Tatis Jr. Tommy Pham, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant would be among the best in baseball and could certainly compete with the rival Dodgers.
There are some issues with this. Bryant is known to be solid defensively at third base but would be required to play in the outfield for the Padres. The former USD product has logged 168 games over his career in the outfield, so he’s no stranger to it. He’s recorded +3 defensive runs saved in the outfield, so he’s far from a liability defensively.
The Padres outfield would consist of Tommy Pham in left, Trent Grisham and Manuel Margot in centerfield, and Bryant in right. With the scenario, either Franchy Cordero or Josh Naylor would come off the bench in a pinch-hitting role. At least on paper, this is an excellent outfield unit.
It’s pretty easy to see that Bryant could fit with the Padres, but what would be the cost?
Kris Bryant has two years of team control left on his current contract. His salary this year will be $18.6 million, but it should be north of $25 million in 2021.
The Padres already sit at a little over $155 million in payroll, according to spotrac.com. That is easily the highest in the history of the franchise. Adding to that seems highly unlikely. The team is shopping Wil Myers to free up the funds to add to the roster, possibly. But that will be a hard sell. The Cubs aren’t taking on additional payroll, so the Padres would have to make a separate trade for Myers, attaching prospects and likely retaining a portion of his salary in the process.
The Cubs also aren’t looking for young players like Ty France, Josh Naylor, or Joey Lucchesi. They will want multiple top 100 or former top 100 prospects. The Padres have been reluctant to trade top prospects for quite some time. Luis Campusano’s name has come up in the Mookie Betts’ rumors, so the Padres may be softening on trading him. However, the Cubs are set at catcher and have their own top catching prospect in Miguel Amaya. Chicago might be interested in Taylor Trammell, but pairing him with Adrian Morejon or Gabriel Arias might not be enough to entice the Cubbies. Theo Epstein’s group will likely ask for Luis Patino. The package for Kris Bryant will need to be much better than the current rumored packages for Mookie Betts.
The Padres also have too many outfielders as it is, and adding another would be a questionable move at best.
If the Cubs weren’t interested in a current outfielder on the Padres roster, A.J. Preller would need to make a separate trade to move potentially two outfielders from the Padres current roster. A situation like this would likely go down as it did last season. Teams knew the Padres had too many outfielders and wouldn’t offer much value in return. This would not be a good thing for San Diego.
As it stands right now, there are more than a few obstacles in the way of the Padres acquiring Kris Bryant. Is A.J. Preller willing to trade top-tier prospects to improve the team for 2020? Can he get creative with the roster in the last month of the offseason? Only time will tell.