If the KC Royals want to make gains in fan interest and attendance, and jump into playoff consideration, a trade for a Cubs All-Star would do it.
After his down year, the Chicago Cubs’ timing is a bit questionable in unloading Kris Bryant. It is rumored they would like to shed salary, and offloading this stud hitter would certainly help with that. If the KC Royals acquire him, it would not put a dent in future plans.
It is estimated he could make around $19 million, which is close to what his prorated contract for 2020 would have been. With a depressed market, however, it is possible that he would draw a couple million less than that. Teams that look to acquire him will gamble that he will return to statistics closer to the career .889 OPS he has delivered and not the head-scratching .644 number he posted this year.
Bryant has experience mainly at third base but also at the corner outfield positions, something the Royals desperately need. Adding another power bat to go with Jorge Soler, Salvador Perez, and Hunter Dozier would give Kansas City a scary middle part of the order for teams to pitch to.
Some of the hurdles to acquiring the former All-Star include what to do with Maikel Franco at third, who to give up in a trade to get possibly only one season from Bryant, and if the Royals are willing to pay him that much money—even if it is for one season.
This type of transaction might require letting go of one of the many young pitchers the Royals have carefully drafted over the last few seasons. With Brady Singer, Carlos Hernandez and Kris Bubic already in the majors, the next wave would appear to be Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch. There are also Asa Lacy, Daniel Tillo, and Jonathan Bowlan not far behind.
Since the team already has a steady starter in Brad Keller, there is obviously no room in the rotation for all these hurlers. The Royals could give up one and take a chance on Bryant.
Franco could be part of the package to send back to the Cubs; he has one year left of team control. He could be offered to another team to partially replace who was given up by acquiring Bryant.
As Royals fans, we are used to playing things very conservatively and not being able to take any chances. This opportunity would not kill the franchise if the Royals pulled it off, though. If KC cannot sign him to a long-term deal, it still has plenty of good arms in the system and Bobby Witt Jr. can step in at third base in 2022.
Another possibility is that Bryant rakes to start the year but if the team struggles we have a high commodity trade piece attractive to teams in contention. Either way, it would be nice to have the KC Royals go big or go home.