There's no question that the 2019 season has been a failure on the part of the Chicago Cubs. The roster is full of championship-caliber players, and yet they were swept at home by the St. Louis Cardinals last week, which pretty much took them out of the playoffs.
Change is coming, and it'll start with manager Joe Maddon not being retained, many would argue. However, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Esptein can't stop there.
This roster needs a makeover, and it'll probably take a blockbuster trade for things to head in a more positive direction for this franchise.
So, of their superstar players, who should they dangle on the trade market? Kris Bryant is the logical name given the trade rumors that surrounded him previously plus the value he could bring in return. The former MVP will be a free agent in a couple years, and as it stands right now, an extension doesn't seem likely given he's a Scott Boras client.
So what's the point of keeping him around?
Well, there's only one problem: there aren't a lot of realistic destinations for him. Here are seven teams that seem to be a fit on paper, but when you dig in, it doesn't appear to be possible financially or from a return standpoint.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Redbirds didn't get a lot of production at the hot corner this year, as Matt Carpenter's bat never got going in 2019. One of their top prospects, Nolan Gorman, is a third baseman, but he hasn't fared too well, either. Bryant would be a nice addition to go along with Paul Goldschmidt, but we shouldn't even get into the weeds on this. There's no way the Cubs are going to trade Bryant to the division-rival Cardinals. Oh, and Bryant isn't a fan of St. Louis, anyway.
New York Mets
The Mets made a blockbuster trade last year with Seattle, which hasn't worked out too well. Even worse, they don't have a deep farm system, before and after that deal (AND after the Stroman trade). They don't have the pieces to get this done, and it's safe to say they don't have the finances to sign Bryant long term.
Bryant, Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins in the middle of the Phillies order? Wow. That would be something to see, but what would the Cubs get in return? Philadelphia used several of their top prospects last winter to acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto, and it's not like it's a deep pipeline to begin with. Chicago will want young pitching in return, which the Phillies certainly don't have, and Epstein will not be giving Bryant to an NL team for anything less than a king's ransom.
There's a good chance the Nationals sign Anthony Rendon to a long-term contract, which would solidify their third base position for the foreseeable future. Even if they weren't able to keep Rendon, which is still very possible given Boras is his agent, do they really have the young pieces to swing a Bryant trade? Outside of Carter Kieboom, Washington isn't littered with top prospects, and I doubt they'd move Juan Soto for Bryant.
The only way the Mariners could pull this off is if Theo Epstein and Co. love Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager and would be willing to get him as part of the return. The Mariners have some blue-chippers that could force the Cubs hand, but with $38 million plus a $15 million club option remaining, it's doubtful Chicago would want to take that on for a player that's been pretty average over the last three years.
The Texas Rangers certainly have a shot. They are going into a new ballpark and will have the financial flexibility to offer a huge extension to Bryant, but it goes back to the return on Chicago's end. The Cubs will want something substantial, which the Rangers don't have much of at the big league or minor league level.
Los Angeles Angels
Bryant is the type of player Mike Trout would love to be paired side-by-side with, but unless the Angels are willing to part with Jo Adell, Los Angeles doesn't have the prospects. Getting another offensive force isn't really the problem, anyways. The Angels need pitching, which is why there's a good chance they'll be one of the top suitors for Gerrit Cole. They might have the worst production at third base in the sport, but they just can't afford to go after Bryant.
New York Yankees
Imagine this? New York could easily move on from Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar to pave way for Bryant in the Big Apple, but given the recent collusion against the Yankees, coupled with the fact GM Brian Cashman fleeced the Cubs in the 2016 Aroldis Chapman trade, it's hard to believe Chicago would make this a reality unless they're able to get revenge and steal a bunch of top talent from the Bombers. We know how prudent Cashman is with making deals, so it's hard to believe this will happen, though it cannot be ruled out.