As outlined here in the past, any trade involving Bryant would be complicated for myriad reasons. The former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP is coming off his worst season, though that came in a truncated 2020 schedule, making it more difficult to evaluate his ability to rebound. He’s also controlled for only one more season and owed a hefty $19.5MM at a time when most clubs throughout the league are wary of taking on more money. There’s also little hope of Bryant, a Scott Boras client, signing an extension — be it with the Cubs or with a new team that acquires him in a trade.
Martino indicates that the Mets have been looking for takers to offload relievers Dellin Betances and/or Jeurys Familia, both of whom are signed through 2021 at rather inflated amounts. Betances exercised a player option valued at $6.8MM for the coming season, while Familia is owed $11MM this coming season ($1MM of which is deferred until 2022). His contract also contains a $1MM assignment bonus in the event of a trade. Speculatively speaking, the Mets could try to push either reliever on the Cubs as something of a financial counterweight.
Of course, the Mets already have a third baseman who’s been a productive hitter for them: 27-year-old J.D. Davis. New York controls Davis all the way through the 2024 season, and while his ceiling isn’t as high as Bryant’s, Davis has been every bit as productive as Bryant over the past couple seasons (.288/.370/.483 to Bryant’s .267/.365/.488). Davis, however, is owed just $2.1MM this year and eligible for three more raises in arbitration between now and the 2024-25 offseason.
Martino adds that the Cubs have at times expressed interest in acquiring Davis themselves, which isn’t a shock given his affordable price tag and recent level of production. However, getting the Mets to part with Davis in return for Bryant alone seems decidedly unlikely. Even attaching Familia’s final year to Davis would still mean the Mets were taking on more than $6MM in new salary and parting with four years of Davis in exchange for one year of a hopeful Bryant rebound.
It’s easy to conjure up more elaborate scenarios in which the Cubs send Bryant and an established pitcher to the Mets, who could use an upgrade in the rotation to push Joey Lucchesi into more of a depth role. The Mets just missed on Trevor Bauer in free agency, and they’ve recently been linked to free-agent starters. The Cubs adding any MLB pitching help to a potential deal would likely necessitate adding more pieces on the Mets’ side, however, further illustrating the difficult nature of actually coming to an agreement on such a layered discussion.