Bryant broke into The Show in 2015 by winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award, then followed it up by winning the NL MVP race in his sophomore season.
Bryant has been able to sustain his success for most of his MLB career, although he has had one or two underwhelming years.
Candidly, Bryant’s stock reached an all-time low during the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
He batted just .206 with a .644 OPS, the lowest marks of his career.
The 2021 season has been a completely different story, however, as the Chicago star is batting .308 with a .991 OPS.
He is well on his way to his fourth All-Star selection, and there is no doubt that he has earned it.
Players with an .890+ OPS through their first 340 career games, since 2010
-Ronald Acuña Jr.
— Foolish Baseball (@FoolishBB) May 22, 2021
The question at hand is a tough one, though: with Bryant’s contract expiring at the end of the season, should the Cubs deal him before the deadline?
And the answer is simple: no, they should not. Here’s why.
The Cubs are Playoff Contenders
To state the obvious, the Cubs are contenders this season.
At 25-22, the team is firmly in the mix in the National League Central.
Bryant is far and away the best hitter on the team, and trading him away would put a massive damper on the Cubs’ hopes of a playoff run.
In fact, this team might struggle to even make the postseason without him.
That aside, it feels odd to trade away your best player and still hope to contend.
Punting on the 2021 season would be one thing, but trading Bryant and then continuing to make a playoff push like nothing happened seems strange.
Right now, Baseball Reference gives the Cubs a 42.3 percent chance of reaching the postseason and a 1.5 percent chance of winning it all.
Trading Bryant May Hurt the Team’s Chances of Re-Signing Him This Offseason
Many teams have attempted to trade away their star player’s expiring contract in hopes of re-uniting with the player after the season, but it rarely works.
Shipping a player off generally proves to be damaging relationship-wise.
It’s fair to assume that the Cubs have a legitimate chance at re-signing Bryant this offseason, but those chances would no doubt be hampered by trading him away.
Of course, if you had a crystal ball that told you that Bryant was going to leave in free agency this winter no matter what, then you’d probably deal him.
But there is no crystal ball, and as far as we can tell, the Cubs and Bryant could very well strike a deal.
If you trade Bryant for a package of prospects, you will be left hoping that merely one of them is able to develop into even half the player that Bryant is now.
2021 MLB offensive WAR (oWAR) leaders:
• Xander Bogaerts (2.8)
• Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (2.6)
• Fernando Tatís Jr. (2.5)
• Nick Castellanos (2.4)
• Kris Bryant (2.4)
• Mike Trout (2.3)
• Max Muncy (2.2)
• Jesse Winker (2.1)
• J.D. Martinez (2.0)
• Byron Buxton (2.0)
— Austin J. Eich (@Eich_AJ) May 24, 2021
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as they say.
Retaining Bryant should be the top priority for Chicago.