July 28: Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic tweets that the Giants are “backing off” any proposals from the Cubs which center around Bart.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser recently reported that among Giants top prospects, Bart may be the “most” available, but that doesn’t means the club is flat-out shopping him or willing to include him for a high-priced rental player such as Bryant (or the majority of Chicago’s other trade candidates).
July 27: The Giants and Cubs have had discussions about a possible Kris Bryant trade, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (Twitter link). Chicago is evaluating San Francisco catcher Joey Bart as a possible part of those conversations, according to Morosi, although he unsurprisingly adds the Giants aren’t likely to give up Bart for Bryant alone.
Bryant has plenty of experience at third base and all throughout the outfield, making him a viable fit on the rosters of plenty of contenders. San Francisco’s expected to get Evan Longoria back from the injured list next month, so the front office is likely eyeing Bryant as a potential outfield pickup. Giants left fielders (primarily Alex Dickerson) have a below-average .214/.288/.395 slash line this season.
Bryant could also offer some cover in center field. Steven Duggar has had a great season, but he’d never before hit at anything near his current .284/.358/.484 clip. Moreover, Duggar’s current .405 batting average on balls in play is unsustainably high, masking an alarming 31.6% strikeout rate.
Finances might be a concern for many clubs interested in Bryant (like the Rays, reported to have had preliminary discussions about a potential deal this morning). The 29-year-old is making $19.5MM this season, his final before hitting free agency. About $7.13MM is still owed for the remainder of the year.
That tab shouldn’t pose much of a problem for the Giants, who have ample financial flexibility. Ownership has previously approved payrolls above $200MM, but their current figure is in the $150-152MM range in the estimation of Cot’s Baseball Contracts and Roster Resource. San Francisco’s nowhere near the luxury tax line, so there should be room for president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and general manager Scott Harris (a former Cubs’ assistant GM) to spend to upgrade a roster that currently leads the Dodgers by two games in the NL West.
Of course, Bart would be an ambitious ask for less than half a season’s worth of work from Bryant alone (although he is reportedly the most likely Giants top prospect to move in the next few days). The former #2 overall pick hasn’t yet found major league success, but he’s a highly-touted young talent. Baseball America slotted the right-handed hitting backstop as the game’s #22 overall prospect in their updated top 100 list this week. While Buster Posey has catcher locked down at the big league level in San Francisco this year, Bart has had a strong campaign at Triple-A Sacramento. The 24-year-old is hitting .310/.372/.532 in 188 plate appearances, his first crack at the minors’ highest level.
There’s no indication the Giants and Cubs are in specific discussions on players other than Bryant, although it’s possible the sides could work out some sort of package deal. Speculatively speaking, relivers Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera could hold appeal to a Giants bullpen that has pitched well but is generally short on past high-leverage experience. Kimbrel would be the more impactful — but far more expensive — pickup. He’s playing out the season on a $16MM salary (about $5.85MM of which remains), with a $16MM club/vesting option for 2022. Tepera, meanwhile, is making an $800K salary and will reach free agency at the end of the year.