SAN DIEGO -- On Monday, the Nationals signed Stephen Strasburg to the richest pitching contract in Major League history.
The reigning World Series champions likely aren’t done making major moves this winter -- even if they don’t re-sign MVP finalist Anthony Rendon to play third base.
In fact, the Nationals have made an initial inquiry to the Cubs about trading for third baseman Kris Bryant, sources say.
Bryant is among the top position player trade candidates in baseball this winter, and industry sources said Monday that there’s a better chance of the Cubs trading Bryant than the Indians dealing shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Neither Bryant nor Lindor is expected to be traded soon. As Ken Rosenthal reported Monday on MLB Network, the market for Bryant hinges on two factors: Teams in the third-base market are likely to wait until after Rendon and Josh Donaldson sign free-agent contracts before making their best offers to the Cubs for Bryant, and the lack of resolution on Bryant’s service-time grievance has created uncertainty in his value.
An arbitrator is expected to rule in the next two weeks on whether Bryant should be credited for a full year of service in 2015. If Bryant is successful, he would become a free agent after the upcoming season, instead of following the 2021 season, as is the current course. Because two seasons of a former MVP would be much more valuable than one, it’s nearly impossible to consummate a trade until the question is resolved.
The Phillies also have checked in with the Cubs on Bryant, according to a Monday report by Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM radio in Chicago.
Meanwhile, the Indians appear increasingly likely to retain Lindor, as the market conditions aren’t favorable to maximize his value. The Yankees and Phillies have spoken with the Indians about Lindor, sources confirmed, but they haven’t offered the high-level prospect package required to complete a deal.
The Dodgers possess the sort of player the Indians want for Lindor -- star second-base prospect Gavin Lux -- but there’s no indication the Dodgers are prepared to offer him in the trade.
Lindor has two seasons left before free agency, so the Indians could revisit the possibility of a deal at the Trade Deadline.
The Braves and Cardinals have been cited in the industry as possible Lindor suitors, but sources say neither team is engaged in active talks with the Indians about him.