The Cubs and Padres discussed various scenarios involving third baseman Kris Bryant but were (obviously) unable to come to an agreement, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Specifically, the Cubs showed interest in right-hander Dinelson Lamet. Catching prospect Luis Campusano was also a potential target.
It’s hardly a shock to see the pitching-needy Cubs pursuing a controllable big league arm like Lamet. The 27-year-old returned from Tommy John surgery in 2019 and gave the Padres 73 innings (14 starts) of 4.07 ERA ball with a massive 13.0 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 and 1.48 HR/9. Lamet averaged 96.1 mph on his heater and posted a gaudy 14 percent swinging-strike rate in addition to high-end spin rates on his heater and breaking ball.
Beyond Lamet’s ability to miss bats, he’s controlled for four seasons, which surely holds appeal considering the Cubs could see both Jon Lester and Jose Quintana hit free agency next winter. His fit on the 2020 club would be clear as well; currently, the Cubs’ hope is that Tyler Chatwood can hold down the fifth starter’s role — a task that he hasn’t been up to in either of the first two seasons of his ill-fated three-year, $38MM deal. Installing Lamet as a fifth option behind Lester, Quintana, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks would’ve been considered an upgrade.
Lamet, though, is also viewed as a key part of the Padres’ 2020 plans. He’s expected to hold down a rotation spot alongside Chris Paddack, Garrett Richards, Zach Davies and Joey Lucchesi. The back of the Padres’ rotation will be a bit in flux as their wave of high-end prospects — headlined by MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino — continue to push toward the big leagues. Lamet, though, has perhaps the highest upside of anyone other than Paddack in that initial quintet.
The 21-year-old Campusano, meanwhile, has significantly elevated his status over the past year. A second-round pick back in 2017, Campusano hit .325/.396/.509 in 487 plate appearances against against much older competition in Class-A Advanced in 2019. He’s now widely considered to be among the game’s 100 best prospects — ranking as high as No. 33 overall in the estimation of ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.
While Bryant wouldn’t exactly be a clean fit into the Padres’ lineup in terms of position, his bat would represent a major upgrade to a Padres team that collectively batted .238/.308/.410 — good for just an 88 wRC+ that ranked 24th among Major League clubs. But with Manny Machado entrenched at third base and Fernando Tatis Jr. slotted in at shortstop — Machado’s other position — fitting Bryant into the mix would be a bit tougher.
Bryant does have experience in the outfield corners, but the Padres aren’t really short on options there, either (Tommy Pham, Wil Myers, Trent Grisham, Franchy Cordero). Bryant would clearly be the best hitter of the bunch, but San Diego acquired both Pham and Grisham this winter, and Myers’ contract ensures that he’ll be a part of the mix in some capacity. Acee does note that while the Padres were willing to consider moving Tatis to center field in the event of a Francisco Lindor acquisition, that scenario wasn’t a consideration when contemplating a Bryant swap.
At this point, the chances of any deal involving Bryant look to be minimal. The former Rookie of the Year and MVP has already had a sit-down with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein — a meeting from which he came away with the impression that he’ll be remaining in Chicago. Their asking price could be informative in the event that Bryant once again hits the market, however, and it also speaks to the manner in which the Friars value both Lamet and Campusano.