Right here’s the factor that makes Kris Bryant such a fascinating commodity on the commerce market: Just about each single contending workforce can take a look at Bryant and suppose, “Yep, we’ve acquired a spot for him!”
That’s uncommon with a place participant, however Bryant has every kind of versatility. Mainly, he’s not a center infielder or a catcher, however that’s it: Simply this yr alone, he’s began 25 video games at third base, 24 in proper area, 19 in left area, 10 at first base and 10 in heart area. He’s not essentially a Gold Glove man at any place, however he’s actually succesful at every place, which provides a number of additional worth.
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And he doesn’t thoughts shifting round, even throughout video games. We listed his “video games began” totals, however right here’s the full variety of video games he’s performed at every place: 28 at third, 28 in proper, 27 in left area, 12 at first and 14 in heart. It’s a supervisor’s dream to have the ability to go all queens gambit with defensive positioning.
He’s a free agent after this yr, which suggests he’s a rental. For some groups, that’s unhealthy. For some, it’s good. But when the aim is to get to October — or win a World Sequence — that’s a minor element, not a roadblock. This yr, he was nice in April and Could, then crummy in June. He has a .304 common and .900 OPS in July.
The place will he be in August? Let’s check out six potential locations.
Why he suits: We’re making an attempt to cowl all of the bases right here. This doesn’t appear doubtless — the Yankees have already got too many right-handed hitters of their lineup — but when one of many objectives is so as to add a bat they usually don’t just like the left-handed choices on the commerce market, they may do worse than Bryant. Aaron Choose is having a nice yr in proper area, however let’s check out the OPS+ numbers for the gamers who’ve performed not less than six video games in left area for the Yankees this yr …
Miguel Andujar: 83
Clint Frazier: 77
Brett Gardner: 75
Tim Locastro: 41 (together with his time in Arizona)
Mike Tauchman: 54
Keep in mind, the league common quantity for that stat is 100. So, principally, each left fielder the Yankees have used this season has been nicely beneath league common. Yeah, they may use Bryant, and don’t neglect he might spell Gardner (and his .197 batting common) in heart, too, although he’s in all probability not a full-time reply there.
Why he suits: Who would have pegged the Mariners as contenders earlier than the beginning of the season? However right here they’re, one sport out of an AL wild-card spot and simply six again of the Astros within the West. For a franchise that hasn’t been within the postseason since 2001 — the longest streak in baseball — they’ll not less than discover aggressive improve choices. And bear in mind their GM? The compulsive dealer himself, Jerry DiPoto. Seattle’s pitching is serviceable, however the offense wants assist. Kyle Seager’s established at third, and identical with Mitch Haniger in proper, however Bryant can be an enormous improve in left area or DH.
Why he suits: Even now, the week of the commerce deadline, it is laborious to know what the Braves will do. They’ve had a number of issues discovering any traction in any respect this yr. However they’re nonetheless solely a handful of video games out of first within the NL East, and buying and selling for Bryant would sort of be taking the slugger away from one other workforce that may profit from KB’s bat (spoiler). Add Bryant, stick him at third base and transfer Austin Riley to the outfield (he’s a greater hot-corner defender than Riley), win NL East. Easy as that, proper? They’ve already traded for one Cubs outfielder; Joc Pederson has two homers and 9 RBIs in 11 video games with Atlanta.
Why he suits: Nothing has actually gone in keeping with plan for the reason that Phillies signed free agent Bryce Harper to that huge deal earlier than the 2019 season. They have been a profoundly .500 membership throughout his three seasons with Philadelphia, they usually’re sitting right here a sport over .500 in 2021. However they’re solely 3 1/2 behind the Mets within the NL East, and Bryant checks a number of packing containers for the Phillies. It would not harm that Bryant and Harper are buddies, too. Reunite the buddies, rally for a playoff berth and put the frustrations of rampant mediocrity within the rear-view mirror.
Why he suits: Would the Cubs REALLY commerce Bryant to the division rival that simply sprinted previous them in June and delivered the crushing blow to Chicago’s 2021 season? If the one aim is to construct a greater workforce, and the Brewers make the very best provide, yeah, they completely ought to commerce him up the highway to Milwaukee. Certain, the Brewers are a rival of the Cubs, however it’s not like they’re the Cardinals, proper? It’s not that sort of century-long rivalry.
The Brewers have had every kind of damage points this yr, and whereas making low-risk offers for a man corresponding to Rowdy Tellez might presumably work out (thus far so good), including a longtime bat corresponding to Bryant figures to make a a lot greater impression. He might play heart area on days when the membership desires extra offense from the place. He might play third base if Luis Urias — who has 13 homers in 94 video games this yr, after six in 124 profession video games heading into 2021 — slows down, or if he’s wanted at one other place. He might play first. The Brewers are a workforce that can contend for the NL’s spot within the World Sequence, and including a flexible middle-of-the-order bat like Bryant is just about precisely what they want.
Why he suits: Though the A’s have hit a tough patch, that is an Oakland workforce that has the items to lastly make that long-awaited deep run into October. Properly, many of the items. The A’s might use one other impression bat. Clearly, Bryant wouldn’t play third so long as Matt Chapman’s wholesome, however he’d be an instantaneous improve at both nook outfield spot or the DH. A lot of sensible people had the A’s related to Nelson Cruz, however he wound up with the Rays. And whereas numerous groups would view Bryant’s standing as a rental as a nasty factor, the shortage of economic commitments may truly be seen as a bonus for the A’s.
Why he suits: It is in all probability not a shock that the Mets are within the high spot right here, contemplating that they have been listed because the almost certainly potential vacation spot within the piece a couple of weeks in the past. No contender wants an offensive kick within the pants greater than the Mets. Certain, possibly the largest drawback is that they simply want their established guys to get wholesome and/or hit higher — hello, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor — however in some unspecified time in the future a workforce with visions of successful the World Sequence title can’t simply sit round and wait. Including Bryant’s versatile bat to the lineup is sort of a dream answer. Bryant provides a workforce numerous choices.
Oh, and there’s this: Think about the Mets dropping a number of 1-0 or 2-1 video games in a playoff sequence — the 1-0 can be Jacob deGrom’s begin, in fact — after not making any form of transfer so as to add a bat earlier than the deadline? Mets followers wouldn’t be comfortable (and neither would the gamers). And the brand new proprietor, Steve Cohen, is keen to make a giant deadline impression.