The Chicago Cubs have a lot of money invested in a handful of players. Jason Heyward, Yu Darvish, Kris Bryant and Jon Lester are all making at least $20 million in 2020. Then there are raises for guys like Kyle Schwarber who will only continue to get more expensive as time goes on.
With reports swirling about the front office looking to slash payroll, the Cubs should start with these three players (and potential scenarios/landing spots) if they're truly looking to fulfill that goal.
3. Find a Contender for Jon Lester
Lester is guaranteed $35 million before 2021. He's signed on for $25 million next season and has a vesting option for $25 million (or a $10 million buyout) for 2021. A team making a World Series push like the Dodgers can trade for him if they miss out on other top pitchers. The Angels or even the Twins are looking to take that next step as well and could make a splash with Lester atop the rotation, assuming he rebounds in 2020.
2. Send Kris Bryant to Phillies or Nationals
The Nationals may lose Anthony Rendon and the Phillies are reportedly among the teams in the running for the slugger. That leaves one of them in need of a star third baseman, and Kris Bryant can be that guy, especially after reports of these teams talking to the Cubs about a deal surfaced. The Cubs may not want to pay him long term, and his grievance with the team likely soured the relationship, so don't be surprised if Epstein trades the former MVP this offseason to get maximum value in return.
1. Trade Kyle Schwarber to an AL Team
Schwarber has always been without a position in the NL. That is why a trade to the AL to be a full-time (or at the very least, part-time) DH makes sense. The Indians could add him after having some players come off the books. The Astros could also take him on while he remains cheap and under team control. A trade across town to the White Sox is also possible as that team looks to contend. The possibilities are endless, making this scenario as realistic as it gets.