Let the Cubs’ fire sale begin.
In a decision that may have significant implications for the Mets, the Cubs have elected to become sellers at the July 30 MLB trade deadline, The Athletic reported Friday morning. According to the report, a Cubs scout was recently seen at a Mets Low-A affiliate game, further fueling trade speculation between the two clubs.
The Mets were linked during the offseason to Kris Bryant, who even received a mysterious “Welcome to the Mets” text over the winter amid a bevy of trade rumors. Bryant, a free agent at season’s end, would add right-handed pop to a Mets offense that ranks second-to-last in all of baseball in runs scored. A four-time All-Star, Bryant is hitting .268 with 16 home runs and 43 RBIs on the season, seeing time at both third base and in the outfield.
Bryant is far from the only Cub likely to draw heavy interest ahead of the trade deadline. Out of the bullpen, closer Craig Kimbrel has rediscovered his All-Star form, posting a 0.57 ERA and notching 20 saves. Veteran Kyle Hendricks is a reliable innings-eater in the rotation, pitching to a 3.83 ERA.
Shortstop Javier Baez and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, two franchise cornerstones, are also on expiring contracts, seemingly incentivizing the franchise to net a haul of prospects rather than simply let the pair walk as free agents come the offseason.
Chicago’s decision to become sellers comes on the heels of an 11-game losing streak that saw the Cubs take a nosedive in the standings, plummeting from first place to 9.5 games back in just 15 days. They are only one game closer to the first-place Brewers than they are to the last-place Pirates.
“We’ve believed in these guys since 2015,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said on Thursday prior to Chicago’s 8-0 loss to the Phillies. “They’ve had a ton of success and I would never count those guys out. But 11 days ago, we were certainly fully on the buy side of this transaction and everyone was calling about that. Obviously, people are now calling to see which players are available, so it’s a very different scenario than we expected. Life comes at you fast.”