Levine: Assessing Possible Kris Bryant Trade Partners

The Nationals, Phillies and Braves are logical trade partners for Bryant.

Bruce Levine
December 10, 2019 - 5:34 pm
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SAN DIEGO (670 The Score) -- The possibility of the Cubs trading star third baseman Kris Bryant has been a hot topic at the Winter Meetings this week.

How likely is it? Well, that answer depends on what suitors would be willing to give up for Bryant, the 2016 National League MVP and a three-time All-Star. If the Cubs were to part with Bryant, they would want a strong return of young players and the salary relief that comes with his exit, which could trigger other moves. Bryant is projected to make $18.5 million in 2020, and the Cubs face payroll constraints. 

The Cubs front office is certainly listening intently. As they do, let's take a look at three of the logical suitors for Bryant and what they may have to offer in return.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals could be in the trade market for a third baseman is Anthony Rendon leaves in free agency, as is expected.

The Cubs would want to center a deal around 22-year-old Nationals outfielder Victor Robles, who could fill their center field vacancy and who boasts five-tool potential. Robles could transform into an ideal leadoff man with a little more plate discipline, as he has posted a .327 on-base percentage in 189 games at the MLB level. Robles also hit 17 homers and stole 28 bases in 2019, and the Cubs would like to add speed to help balance a lineup that has been reliant on the home run ball in recent seasons. Robles is under contract control through 2024.

Right-hander Jackson Rutledge, 20, is an intriguing pitching prospect in the Nationals' system. He has big upside and a 97-mph fastball, and the Cubs want to add more pitchers who miss bats. 

The Cubs could also be interested in 22-year-old third baseman Drew Mendoza, the seventh-ranked prospect in the Nationals' system and whom they drafted in the third round this past June. 

Philadelphia Phillies

The Cubs and Phillies have the potential to match up well for a trade.

The trouble is the Phillies' top pitcher and top hitter in their farm system appear to be untouchables right now.

Right-hander Spencer Howard, 23, is coming off a fine season in which he posted a 2.03 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and a 5.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 starts across various levels. He finished the season at Double-A and is projected to be called up in 2020.

Alec Bohm, 23, could play first base or third base at the MLB level. He has big home run potential, but he there's some worry about his swing-and-miss factor. Bohm is ranked as the No. 34 prospect in the minor leagues by MLB Pipeline. He's not a polished fielder, so he could end up at first base eventually.

Left-hander JoJo Romero, 23, is another pitching prospect with intriguing potential, but he's coming off a poor 2019 season.

Atlanta Braves

In a potential match with the Braves, the Cubs would be looking for fill a couple holes with MLB-ready talent. 

Ender Inciarte could fill the Cubs' needs in center field and leadoff. He's a quality defensive player who has a .338 on-base percentage in his career and is under team control through 2022. 

Austin Riley, 22, could also draw the Cubs' interest. He had 18 homers, 49 RBIs and a .750 OPS in 80 games as a rookie in 2019. He primarily played left field but can also play third base. Riley has big home run potential, but he struck out 108 times in 297 plate appearances -- a 36.4% strikeout rate. 

Adding a starting pitcher would fit nicely in this potential trade as well. Left-hander Max Fried (17-6, 4.02 ERA, 1.33 WHIP in 2019) would be on the Cubs' map, but the Braves might be unwilling to move him. Right-hander Ian Anderson, 22, could be another option. He's the Braves' third-ranked prospect whom scouts are high on. He was impressive at Double-A this past season before getting hit harder in five starts at Triple-A late in the season.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.