After the Cubs pulled off a trade on the 29th sending Yu Darvish and former Braves minor leaguer Victor Caratini to the Padres for Zach Davies, Reginald Preciado, Yeison Santana, Owen Caissie, and Ismael Mena, speculation has surrounded the Cubs and their higher priced players. I couldn’t help myself and yes, I’ve come up with a few Braves and Cubs Hypothetical Trades.
Taking a quick look at the Cubs payroll over at Cot’s, the Cubs have quite a bit of high profile players making high profile salaries.
- Jason Heyward: 3/$65MM
- Kris Bryant: 1/~$19MM
- Anthony Rizzo: 1/$16.5MM
- Craig Kimbrel: 1/$16MM ($1MM buyout for 2022)
- Javier Baez: 1/~$11.25MM
Knowing how Alex Anthopoulos operates, Jason Heyward is likely out of the picture as a 3 year commitment isn’t something that we’ve seen from him in the past, especially with such a high AAV. However, Anthopoulous could have some sort of interest in 3 of the remaining 4. It’s a weird time to be a Cubs fan. With no GM at the helm (Jed Hoyer seems to be running the show for now) and none expected for the rest of the offseason, the faceless actions will come with less scrutiny toward any individual and therefore will likely continue to happen. Let’s take a look at each of the 3 players, their trade values or lack thereof, and see if we can make a deal work.
Kris Bryant Trade Value
The trade simulator has been a fun little tool that I’ve used a lot in the past. While sometimes the values make me question how often the site gets updated, I feel as though their values more often than not match my own.
For Bryant, his down 2020 has all but extinguished his surplus value. He comes in at +$3.7MM. It’s important to understand that +$3.7MM isn’t his total value, rather just his surplus. Add the $19MM to the $3.7MM and the trade simulator is essentially projecting him to be 2.5-3 WAR player. It’s hard to grade whether the Cubs will sell low on Bryant considering he’s been a star for them for so long, but his 2020 was bad in all the ways it could be, and that includes his Statcast data which showed his batted ball profile to be well below average. The good thing is the Braves should be able to get Bryant for very little, but with his pedigree and the 1-year of control, there will likely be other teams who’d also enjoy Bryant hitting in the middle of their order.
Craig Kimbrel Trade Value
Weird that we’re discussing this, right? The great Craig Kimbrel, who collected 333 saves, 868 strikeouts, and carried 1.91 ERA over his first 9 years in the league, signed in the middle of the 2019 season to a 3/$42MM and has absolutely stunk as a Cubbie. How stinky? A 6 ERA in 36 innings of pure Pepé Le Pew stank. Needless to say, he has negative trade value coming in at -$10.8MM.
Javier Baez Trade Value
.599. That’s bad, right? Well, if it was his batting average, or slugging percentage, it wouldn’t be. However, this was Baez’s OPS in 2020. Yeesh. Prior to his putrid 2020, Baez was a back to back 5 WAR player and prior to that, mid-2s. He’s good, but a lot of his value comes with exceptional defense at shortstop and the Braves already have one of those. Luckily, he’s really good at playing a lot of positions and Anthopoulos has never shied away from grabbing a player and figuring out the fit later. The trade simulator didn’t buy into his 2020, but also didn’t gauge his value at his 2019 production either. Rather, he comes in at +$11.5MM, which when added to his projected salary of $11.25MM, put him right there with Kris Bryant. Let’s be real here…he’ll cost more than Kris Bryant.
Fake Trade Idea Number 1
Breakdown: Braves give up on 2 former first round prospects, but grab their middle of the order bat to replace Marcell Ozuna. The Cubs would’ve simply non-tendered Bryant and saved the ~$19MM if they didn’t think they could trade him. They can…and I think they will.
Fake Trade Idea Number 2
- Braves get Craig Kimbrel and $4MM
- Cubs get Ender Inciarte and Sean Newcomb
Breakdown: After the buyouts and the $ coming back to the Braves, the Braves would owe Kimbrel $13MM while parting with Ender’s $9.7MM. A $3.3MM gamble on Kimbrel to rid the Braves of Ender’s dead weight.
Fake Trade Idea Number 3
- Braves get Javy Baez
- Cubs get Kyle Muller and Sean Newcomb
Breakdown: It might seem like I’m picking on Sean Newcomb a bit here, but that’s not it. I feel like the Braves simply don’t value him anymore and that many teams would jump at the chance to grab him and put him back into a rotation. It would really hurt to lose Kyle Muller, but the Braves are in need of a power bat and that defense would be stellar with Ozzie Albies at 2B, Dansby Swanson at SS, and Javy Baez at 3B. This trade also keeps Austin Riley in a Braves uniform and allows for him to play DH (if it’s there), LF, and 3B letting Baez flex his flexibility around the diamond.
There are many combos of these trades that could be flirted with, including grabbing both Bryant and Kimbrel in a deal together, which makes a lot of sense for the Braves if it’s basically a salary dump with Ender money coming back and a few pieces mentioned above as the return.
Thanks for reading on Braves and Cubs Hypothetical Trades. If you enjoyed this, check out this other piece on some crazy trade ideas.