Cubs may trade Kris Bryant to gain some payroll flexibility

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Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports that the Cubs have discussed a Kris Bryant trade with the Phillies. Nothing is close yet, and Levine notes that Bryant’s ongoing service time grievance is still an issue.

Including projected salaries from pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players, the Cubs’ 2020 payroll as it pertains to the competitive balance tax is nearly $210 million, according to Cot’s Contracts. The CBT threshold for 2020 is $208 million, meaning the Cubs would pay a penalty on the overage. Bryant, who is either entering his second-to-last or final year of arbitration eligibility (depending on the outcome of his grievance) is projected to earn around $19 million in 2020. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal suggests that trading Bryant would be one way the Cubs would be able to clear payroll space so as not to exceed the CBT threshold.

Bryant turns 28 next month. He is coming off of another productive season in which he hit .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI across 634 plate appearances. He’s a three-time All-Star who won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2016 NL MVP Award.

The Cubs last season finished 84-78, fading in September and ultimately settling for third place in the NL Central. Trading Bryant to facilitate signing free agents to cover other positions may not even help the Cubs return to prominence in the division, but a haul of prospects may help set the Cubs up for the future if they don’t see themselves signing Bryant to a contract extension.

Kinsler back with Rangers as special assistant to GM Young

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Former Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler returned to the team as a special assistant to general manager Chris Young, his teammate in the organization’s minor league system nearly two decades ago.

Young said that Kinsler, who was part of the franchise’s only two World Series teams in 2010 and 2011, will be heavily involved in player development and providing mentorship to both players and staff.

Kinsler, a four-time All-Star, was part of a World Series championship with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, a year before his retirement. Kinsler played 14 seasons in the major leagues and spent the last three years in the front office of the San Diego Padres as a special assistant in baseball operations and player development. The 40-year-old has been living in the Dallas area, as he did throughout his playing career.

Kinsler played for the U.S. in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and Israel in last summer’s Olympics, and he will manage Israel in next month’s WBC.

Young and Kinsler were teammates for several weeks at Double-A Frisco in the summer of 2004, the same year the pitcher made his big league debut. They were in big league spring training together in 2005, then Young was traded after that season.

A 17th-round draft pick by Texas in 2003, Kinsler played 1,066 games for the Rangers from 2006-13, hitting .273 with 156 homers, 539 RBIs and 172 stolen bases. He hit .311 with a .422 on-base percentage in 34 postseason games. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame last summer.

Kinsler hit .269 with 257 homers, 909 RBIs and 243 stolen bases in 1,888 career games overall with Texas, Detroit (2014-17), the Los Angeles Angels (2018), Boston (2018), and San Diego (2019). He is one of only two MLB second baseman with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in multiple seasons, and had the only six-hit cycle in a nine-inning game since 1900 on April 15, 2009.