The Chicago Cubs are the puppet masters of the free agency period, and it is quite fascinating how they are doing it.
The Cubs are aiming to cause tension between desperate teams in an attempt to get a better trade return out of third baseman Kris Bryant down the line.
The Cubs are due to pay Bryant $18.5 million in 2020. He is up for arbitration after the 2021 season (assuming he doesn't win his grievance), then he becomes an unrestricted free agent, so his consistent performance puts the Cubs in a place where they will be unlikely to pay him at that point.
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2014, the Cubs want to "rebuild without rebuilding", revamping the franchise without going into an extended losing period. That begins with getting impressive young prospects in exchange for Bryant's services, while also ridding themselves of his contract.
Anthony Rendon is arguably the best third baseman available this offseason, and Josh Donaldson isn't far behind him, meaning Bryant will not be the hottest commodity initially.
However, the Cubs will force the teams that don't land either Rendon or Donaldson into trade wars over Bryant. By waiting out free agency, the Cubs strategy should pay off.