The Cubs are in a peculiar position where they must have considered undergoing a full rebuild, which is why they dealt Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish to the Padres earlier this offseason. Yet, they are in a division that could be won by a .500 team. The NL Central is a mess full of underwhelming clubs; there is no reason Chicago shouldn’t feel like they can win the division again in 2021.
The Cubs have made the availability of 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant known; they are listening to all offers, as he is set to become a free agent at the end of this season, but how serious are they about dealing him? Their recent signing of Joc Pederson suggests they may not be willing to throw in the towel on their season before it even begins.
Pederson undoubtedly had an underwhelming shortened campaign, but he’s a year removed from smacking 36 homers in 149 games for the Dodgers. There is no question he makes the Cubs a more competitive club, and they should remain the favorites to win the NL Central.
Moving Bryant before the season begins is probably in Chicago’s best interest. Even if the Cubs find a way to sneak into the playoffs, this is nowhere near a championship-caliber roster. However, between trying to remain competitive and their asking price, I’m starting to feel that it is less and less likely Bryant is dealt.
The former MVP is coming off a miserable 2020 in which he hit .206 with four homers while playing in just 34 games thanks to injuries. If controllable major league-ready talent is what the Cubs are looking for in return for Bryant, they aren’t going to get it. Looking at our Braves Top 30 Prospects List, I don’t imagine Anthopoulos would part ways with any of the Braves top-seven prospects in return for Bryant. Given that, and the Cubs’ intent on competing, it seems highly unlikely he finds himself in a Braves uniform before the start of the season.