With Bryant now back in play for the Mets, what kind of package should New York be willing to part with?
Bryant is under contract for $19.5 million in 2021 and set to hit free agency after the season, meaning his situation is not dissimilar from the one with Francisco Lindor earlier this offseason before the Cleveland Indians — desperate to clear payroll — dealt him and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets.
Like Bryant, Lindor is set to hit free agency after the 2021 season and will earn a high salary this season ($22.3 million). Also like Bryant, Lindor is coming off a down season. But for Lindor, his 2020 was still productive.
Bryant’s, meanwhile, was alarming.
He hit just .206/.293/.351 while being limited to 34 games due in part to an oblique injury.
Bryant also missed 60 games in 2018 due to a shoulder injury that impacted his power output. He hit just 13 homers in 2018 but rebounded to smash 31 in 147 games in 2019 while slashing .282/.382/.521.
While Bryant’s 2020 performance seems like an aberration and his upside is enormous, he should not cost more than it took to get Lindor and Carrasco.
And with Scott Boras as Bryant’s agent, the likelihood of the Mets extending him (if they are interested in doing so) is probably lower than their chances of extending Lindor.
Bryant being a likely rental isn’t the Cubs’ problem. They’re free to ask for anything they want in return. But for the Mets, they should be drawing a line in the sand when it comes to what they’re willing to part with. What should that line be?
Team president Sandy Alderson said earlier this offseason that the team wasn’t necessarily reluctant to part with prospects. To be exact, they were mostly opposed to trading their most highly-valued prospects.
The Mets did not part with any prospects from their top six while dealing for Lindor and should have the same philosophy in talks for Bryant.
That means that Francisco Alvarez, Matt Allan, Ronny Mauricio, Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brett Baty, and J.T. Ginn should be off-limits.
The types of players listed above rarely get moved in trades for rentals anymore, and the Mets should hold firm on that.
Instead, New York should be willing to part with one of their top 10 prospects — think a player like third baseman Mark Vientos — and another high-ceiling prospect in their top 30 who is years away from the majors.
That almost certainly won’t be enough, though.
While trading for Lindor and Carrasco, the Mets dealt prospect Isaiah Greene along with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario — two valuable big league players who have nearly a decade of team control combined.
In order to get Bryant, they might have to part with another valuable big league piece, but the overall package should not be on the level of what it took to get Lindor and Carrasco.
Per Martino, the Cubs have previously expressed interest in trading for J.D. Davis, who will make only $2.1 million in 2021 and who has four years of team control remaining.
While Davis is a promising young hitter, his defense at third base (and in left field) is a serious concern. Bryant’s defense at third is above average, while his offensive upside is literally that of an MVP.
Could a package of Davis and Vientos (or another prospect not in the Mets’ top six, but within their top 15) get it done for Bryant? Perhaps.
If the Cubs want an additional prospect, the Mets should insist on Chicago taking back Jeurys Familia and a large chunk of the $11 million he’s owed this season.
Should the Mets be willing to part with that kind of package for Bryant? Yes.
After Trevor Bauer opted to go to Los Angeles despite the Mets offering him more money, it felt like the Mets had one big move left in them this offseason — with a trade for Bryant among the potential moves that made the most sense.
With talks now revived, the Mets should be aggressive but firm. The end result could be a left side of the infield in 2021 that features not only Lindor, but Bryant too.