Bryant has had seven great seasons with the Cubs.
His tenure has included a Rookie of the Year Award, a Most Valuable Player Award, three (soon to be four) All-Star selections, and a World Series title.
Bryant is a career .283 hitter with an OPS of .896.
This season, he’s having one of his best years.
The 29-year-old has a slash line of .320/.405/.604 to go along with 11 home runs and 15 doubles in 46 games.
Kris Bryant is starting at first base today for the 5th time this season. He's the first former MVP to start at 5 different positions at least 5 times in a single season.
Has 14 at 3b, 11 RF, 11 LF, 5 CF, 5 1b
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) May 28, 2021
It has been a crazy bounce-back season for the slugger after a poor 2020 campaign.
There has been a lot of speculation as to what the Cubs plan to do with Bryant this season and beyond.
Trading Bryant’s expiring contract is an idea that has been tossed around, but many fans would rather see him extended.
If the Cubs really do want to keep Bryant around past this season, there are three steps they should take to give themselves a shot.
Step One: Don’t Trade Him At The Deadline
If the Cubs’ top priority is bringing Bryant back next season, then they are going to have to let the idea of trading him go.
A Bryant trade does make good sense in some ways.
After all, there are no guarantees that he returns next year.
And if he doesn’t, it will be extremely tough to accept the fact that the Cubs could have traded him at the deadline for an attractive return.
But again, if the goal is to retain Bryant, then you have to show him some loyalty by keeping him around for the rest of the year.
It’s not like that’s a bad option, either.
After all, this Cubs team is still very much in the postseason mix.
As of Friday afternoon, Chicago is 27-22 and just half-a-game out of first place in the National League Central.
Step Two: Talk To Him Before Other Teams Do
Officially, teams are allowed to reach out to free agents the day after the conclusion of the World Series.
If the Cubs retain Bryant at the deadline, however, they will have up until the end of the postseason to negotiate with him and perhaps even reach an extension before he becomes a free agent.
Me, whenever I remember Kris Bryant doesn’t have an extension. pic.twitter.com/P24yg2LTBq
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 24, 2021
If Bryant tests the free agent waters, it could very well become a bidding war.
The Cubs would have lost a lot of leverage by that point.
If the team tries to get something done before the season ends, they won’t have to deal with competing offers, which is obviously a plus.
Step Three: Make The First Offer A Competitive One
Nothing turns a player off like a disrespectful offer.
If the Cubs want Bryant as their franchise player, their first offer should reflect that.
All too often, we see players hit free agency after being lowballed in contract negotiations.
The Cubs are going to have to let go of the idea that Bryant might take a hometown discount.
He is a legitimate star in this league and is going to get paid as such.