After an initial wave of relatively important rumors linking the Nationals to Kris Bryant’s trade rumors, and a follow-up wave of (seemingly) the Nationals trying to push back against those rumors, there is still a small data point to add to the mix. add.
The Nationals’ manager admits his club has spoken of Bryant:
Nationals manager Dave Martinez on Kris Bryant and Nats’ desire to add a major bat to their lineup: “His name certainly comes up in conversations.”
– Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) December 15, 2020
Martinez was, of course, the former Cubs’ bank coach under Joe Maddon, so he knows Bryant well. You don’t want to take away from him TOO much when answering a question – the manager isn’t the GM, for example – but it’s kind of wild that Martinez was willing to say this out loud. You never actually hear team employees do that about players under contract with another club.
What if the * manager * already knows that Bryant’s name has come up in conversations – internally? external? – that seems to indicate that the trade rumors are legitimate. Not that I necessarily doubted it – they had been so widespread for over a year now and the fit is so obvious – but it strikes me that the talks got so far the manager knows. A manager who has personal experience with the player. Like a manager who may have been asked his opinion on trying to take over Bryant? A manager who would probably enjoy taking Bryant as his third baseman in 2021, when his team’s best window might still have a crack.
We know that if the Cubs could get a decent return for Bryant in trading, the reality is that they would want to go that route. Bryant has only one more season under control, and it’s a season where the Cubs (1) are looking for a ‘tough reboot’ on the squad, (2) are looking for new pieces for the future and (3) on looking to cut payroll (sigh). The Nationals have been fit for a long time, so again, nothing surprises me here.
A reminder, however, that the Cubs * don’t * have to trade Bryant, and the Nationals – with their extremely thin ranch system – only fit well in my opinion if they’re open to taking on a post-hype guy like Victor Robles or Carter Kieboom . The Cubs simply won’t get huge returns for a year of $ 20 million at Bryant, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t get convincing enough returns worth considering.
UPDATE: This is PERFECT because it follows the pattern for these things – credible rumor, pushback, credible rumor, pushback, manager says it, GM says nah:
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo took the unusual step of talking about another team’s player when he told reporters that the Nats are not interested in trading for Kris Bryant: “We probably haven’t had a serious conversation about Kris Bryant in two years. He wasn’t … https://t.co/DE4ivBN7PE
– Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) December 15, 2020
“We probably haven’t had a serious conversation about Kris Bryant in two years. He wasn’t a big kid on our radar last year or this year. He’s a great player, but at this point and the time where we are, and what we have in our farming system and where we’re going, we think we can allocate our dollars and capital in a different way. “
Again, I don’t know why they somehow say these things in public, but there’s not really much reason to believe Rizzo (who has a pretty clear agenda (and I don’t mean maliciously)) about Martinez ( who, as a manager, was just talking a bit). That doesn’t mean Rizzo is wrong – maybe the Nats by his standards not had a serious conversation about Bryant within two years. Sure, for that to be true, about eight different credible sources from Chicago, Washington, and nationally would have had to receive bad information for two years in a row now, but hey, it’s possible.
It’s also possible, of course, that the Nationals simply don’t want to get stuck in this, and when Rizzo says they haven’t had a ‘serious talk’, he means they haven’t exchanged names in trade talks or anything VERY serious.
UPDATE 2: Ha. Now it is clear to me:
Rizzo: “It’s never a good idea to get a year of a really good player for three or four prospects of the future.”
– Todd Dybas (@Todd_Dybas) December 15, 2020
In other words, they have TOTALLY had conversations with the Cubs about Bryant, but the Cubs’ questions were very steep, which is why the Nationals never considered it “serious.” So now they are negotiating through the media.
(On a side note … the Nationals don’t even have three or four prospects, they could now count on being future big leagues for sure, so …)