Indians: What happened (or didn’t) at the Winter Meetings?

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

The Indians aren’t the only team that is looking to shed some payroll. The Chicago Cubs are also in a position where ownership is seeking to trim some money. The Cubs are rumored to be listening to offers for 3B/OF Kris Bryant.

Bryant won a World Series with the Cubs and in 2019 posted a .282 average, hit 31 home runs, and finished with a 3.6 WAR. The issue currently with Bryant is that he is appealing his major league service time. This means he will either be in his last season of arbitration and a free agent in 2021, or he will have two years of team control remaining. According to Spotrac, Bryant is expected to make $18.5 million in arbitration for the 2020 season.

The Indians and Cubs are natural trade partners if money wasn’t an issue. The Indians have a surplus of MLB pitching, and the Cubs have a surplus of MLB hitting. In order to acquire Bryant, the Indians would likely need to offer Mike Clevinger in the deal. A pitcher who’s young enough to satisfy the Cubs long term, but also expensive enough to prevent the Indians of taking on too much new payroll in one player.

The issue holding up additional rumors on Bryant is that it won’t be determined for two more weeks the results of his appeal on service time. If Bryant has two years of team control, it matches perfectly with the Indians remaining control of Lindor.

Bryant is expected to continue to be shopped quietly by the Cubs, and once the last big third baseman is signed in Josh Donaldson, the Cubs will be the next team to call for championship contenders in need of someone at the hot corner.