The Phillies and Nationals both missed out on potential game-changers earlier this offseason when Anthony Rendon signed with the Angels and Josh Donaldson inked a deal with the Twins. But they could now be in play for another big fish.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, both Philadelphia and Washington have shown "exploratory interest" in trading for Cubs 3B/OF Kris Bryant.
Bryant, who recently lost his service time grievance against the Cubs, has two years of team control remaining. He will earn $18.6 million in 2020 before being arbitration-eligible one last time in 2021.
The 28-year-old Bryant hit .282/.382/.521 with 31 homers and 35 doubles in 147 games last season for the Cubs in what was a strong rebound season after a 2018 campaign that was marred by injury and relative ineffectiveness.
If the Phillies or Nationals add Bryant, it could help put one of those teams over the top in what is expected to be a hotly contested NL East with the top four teams currently projected to be five or so wins apart.
As far as the Mets are concerned, trading for Bryant would allow them to either play him in left field and leave Jeff McNeil at third base, or shift McNeil to the outfield and slot Bryant in at third base.
In addition to the talent the Mets would need to part with in order to obtain Bryant is the fact that obtaining him would almost certainly mean eclipsing the $208 million luxury tax threshold -- something they have never done and that does not seem likely.
MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone wrote Tuesday that the Cubs would be seeking a center fielder, top pitching prospect, and at least one or two position prospects considered to be among the league's top 100 in order to trade Bryant. In addition to an acquiring team taking on all of Bryant's 2020 salary, the Cubs would also push the acquiring team to take on another contract, such as reliever Tyler Chatwood, who is due $13 million this season.
Cerrone added that the Cubs have inquired about Mets RHP prospect Matthew Allan, who is on the cusp of breaking into top 100 lists after being drafted in 2019. It should also be noted that the Cubs scouted Allan heavily, and were initially expected to take him toward the end of the first round.
Whether the Mets eventually make a push for Bryant remains to be seen, but it would certainly be worth them investigating what it would take if it seems the Phillies or Nats are about to swoop in and get him.