Feb 28, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (77) throws a Los Angeles Angels runner at first base in the eighth inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The Los Angeles Angels won the game 15-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
After adding some rotation depth, the number one goal for our version of the Cleveland Indians was to acquire some right-handed power and improve defense at third base. After approaching the Cubs, it initially seemed as though they might e the perfect trade partners. After all, Kris Bryant is the number three-ranked prospect in the game according to just about every top prospect list out there, and the Cubs have a crowded list of infield prospects fighting for starting positions on the roster anyway. The Indians have depth in the rotation that the Cubs could surely stand to benefit from.
Lonnie Chisenhall doesn’t seem to be the long-term answer at third base anymore. He started the season red-hot and continued to wreck the American League, with his batting average reaching .393 at one point during August. Of course, we all remember his 3-homer, 9-RBI 5-for-5 night in Texas against the Rangers. But after Terry Francona made the choice to bench him against tough lefty Jon Lester, Chisenhall was never the same hitter. A poor second half dropped his batting average down to .280 on the year (still respectable but a major bummer considering his first half numbers), and he never reached the 20 or even 15 homers we thought he might be capable of. True, he’s only 26, and his upside is certainly still there, but his defense at third base was among the worst in the game. Chisenhall is certainly worth the $2.2 million he figures to earn in arbitration, but we’d prefer to use him as a DH, bench bat and occasional starter at the hot corner.
Bryant, meanwhile, finished the year with 43 homers and 34 doubles between AA and AAA ball in 2014. He added 86 walks and 15 stolen bases to that campaign. Unlike Chisenhall, he has a powerful and accurate arm, and the type of athleticism that makes him a good, if not great, defensive candidate at third base. Bryant represents the long-term upgrade at third that the Cleveland Indians are looking for.
The initial trade talks seemed to be headed in the right direction. We initially offered young flamethrower Danny Salazar and outfield prospect James Ramsey in exchange for the young slugger. The Cubs initially asked for Cody Allen to be added in return, which was, of course, a deal-breaker for the Tribe. They offered to include other small pieces, but ultimately the Indians were unsatisfied with what they would be receiving for an ace-potential starter, lights-out closer and solid outfield power bat. The Indians offered to include Nick Hagadone instead, and were even willing to make it Bryan Shaw if we had to. However, the Cubs received an offer from the Giants that they were unable to pass up.
Ultimately, the Cubs traded Kris Bryant and Luis Valbuena to the Giants in return for Tim Lincecum, their top pitching prospect Kyle Crick, pitching prospect Keury Mella and reliable Major-League bullpen arm George Kontos. It was an offer that the Cleveland Indians weren’t willing to compete with, and one that filled at least one major need for both sides of the deal. The Cubs got the high-upside pitching they wanted, while the Giants filled their hole at third base created by the departure of Pablo Sandoval..
Would you have traded Danny Salazar, James Ramsey and Cody Allen for Kris Bryant? We encourage you to comment below, or tweet us at @wahoosonfirst