Now, this might not be the most popular thought, but it is possible that the Dodgers might need to replace free agent Justin Turner in the lineup. With the DH probably not happening in the National League in 2021, would it be surprising if an American League team paid more to Turner than LA might?
Personally, I want JT back with the Dodgers but it is not my money to spend. So, if the club loses JT, who could replace him at third base?
The Dodgers have left-hand hitting slugger Edwin Rios as a candidate but we already know Andrew Friedman is interested in acquiring a right handed bat. Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs is known to be available so we’ll take a look at how he might fit in.
Kris Bryant was a huge prospect who came up quickly through the Cubs farm system and helped them clinch their first World Series win in 108 years back in 2016. He won the NL Most Valuable Player award that same year. From 2015 through 2019 he was one of the better players in baseball as he slashed .284/.385/.516 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with an OPS of .901 and an OPS+ of 137. He also averaged 28 home runs per season and played league average defense at third base. The Cubs also used him in the outfield and a little bit at first base. Notably, he did miss a lot of time in 2018 with a shoulder injury.
The 2020 Disaster
If anyone had an awful 2020 it was Kris Bryant. Here are his ailments just in 2020:
- Brief COVID-19 scare
- Sprained wrist
- Sprained finger
- Back issues
- Elbow issues
- Left oblique injury
That is just for a 60 game season. On the field he ended up just playing in 34 games, hitting only 4 home runs and slashing .206/.293/.351. Ouch all the way around, but it is a small sample size.
— Cubsessed (@CubsessedCubFan) November 16, 2020
It sounds like the Cubs are ready to trade all their potential 2021 free agents or anyone on a long-term and expensive contract. Kris Bryant is one of those potential free agents who made $18.6M in arbitration. The Cubs must tender a contract to Bryant that is at least 80% of his previous $18.6M contract or he becomes a free agent. Any team that trades for him before the contract tender deadline of December 2, 2020 would also need to offer him a contract or lose him to free agency.
I feel that if the Cubs cannot trade him by December 2nd that he will not be offered a contract. Even with a horrible year, he will probably make at least $19-20M in 2021.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 16, 2020
Bounce Back Candidate
With Bryant’s history before 2020 being so strong he would seem to a big bounce-back candidate. We also documented his injuries which could continue to plague him. Some of Bryant’s advanced metrics were horrible but they could be attributed to his injuries. Obviously, teams have to weigh these factors in determining if Bryant is worth a contract around $20M in 2021. Not only the money but putting pieces together to make a trade. It will be very interesting over the next two weeks to see what teams actually think about Bryant.
Does Bryant Fit With The Dodgers?
Remembering that Andrew Friedman is on record for wanting a right handed bat could Kris Bryant fit in with the Dodgers? If Justin Turner signs with another team then it becomes an easier question to answer. What if JT is back with the Dodgers? Well, Bryant is versatile as he plays the corners on the infield and the outfield. However, the Dodgers aren’t going to trade prospects and pay him $20M to be a utility player. If Bryant were to be non-tendered by the Cubs then there would be some type of bidding war for him. It really could be interesting this winter.
Like most Dodgers fans I want Justin Turner to return but it cannot be at any cost. If JT does move on then I wouldn’t mind a one year look at Kris Bryant to see if he can bounce back. I believe there is a decent chance he does bounce back. The offseason is a fun time to speculate and take a look at the options. I doubt if the Dodgers get Bryant but you never know with Andrew Friedman.