It’s that time of year when the offseason rumor mill is swirling and the talking heads on TV are trying to fill hours of content with speculation and hypothetical situations.
One situation that was proposed by Joel Sherman on MLB Network, between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs, is quite the doozy.
In it, the Phillies receive star third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Jason Heyward in exchange for Jean Segura, Jay Bruce, and three prospects.
Now, before we dive into whether or not this makes sense for both teams involved, you have to be asking yourself if this would even happen. And while the chances of such a blockbuster trade occurring are slim, the Cubs have been heavily rumored to be looking to move on from Bryant and lower their payroll. If Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak is aggressive, he could pull this off.
Ok, so now, how does this make sense for the Phillies?
The obvious first answer is the Phillies have a glaring hole at third base. Maikel Franco is on his way out after yet another disappointing season, and the Phillies need to find a solution to their problems there. Who better than Bryant, the number two overall pick in the 2013 draft?
In five years in the Majors, Bryant has a .284/.385/.516 slash line, 138 home runs, 403 RBI, and 486 runs. He’s a three-time All-Star, won the Rookie of the Year in 2015, and was the National League MVP in 2016. And, after some shady service time manipulation by the Cubs, Bryant still has two more years of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent after the 2021 season.
Then, there’s Bryant’s relationship with Bryce Harper. The two are good friends, and that makes it more likely that Bryant would sign an extension in Philadelphia, should he be traded here. The two could also make each other play better, and Bryant would provide Harper with some much-needed protection at the plate.
This move also makes sense when you consider the rumors that the Phillies are actively pursuing free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius. If they sign him, current shortstop Jean Segura becomes expendable. True, they could move him to second base – after trading Cesar Hernandez at some point this offseason – and move Scott Kingery to either third or center.
That’s still an improvement over the 2019 Phillies. But wouldn’t it be even better to move Kingery to his natural position of second on a full-time basis, have Adam Haseley (or Heyward if they would choose to keep him) in the center, and Bryant at third? That’s why if Gregorius signs in Philly, this move makes even more sense for Klentak to do.
Now it’s true that Heyward has failed to live up to the huge contract the Cubs gave him in 2015, but he’s not any worse than what the Phillies could roll out to center on a nightly basis. If anything, the downside to Heyward is he would take away from the development of Haseley, and he’s owed $86 million over the next four years. But the price is well worth it to add one of the better players in baseball in Bryant.
Then there are the hidden benefits of this move. With Bryant manning the hot corner, third base prospect Alec Bohm becomes valuable trade bait. It would be tough to move on from Bohm, who seems to have the makings of a potential star. But we thought that about Dominic Brown too, and look what happened to him. If the Phillies could trade Bohm for a top-of-the-line starting pitcher, then they have to do it.
The Phillies are in win-now mode. It’s not every day that a player like Bryant, with the production he can put up and the two remaining years on his contract, is potentially available in a trade.
The Phillies have the pieces to make this happen, and doing so would help to lessen the gap between them and their National League East rivals, and put them in a better position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.