The possibility that the Cubs will trade third baseman Kris Bryant is remote.
Nevertheless, a social media firestorm began Friday based on comments made by Cubs president Theo Epstein at this week’s general managers meetings in Carlsbad, California.
That was extrapolated by an ESPN national writer that the Cubs would be open to trading Bryant.
Epstein was asked at the GM meetings if the Cubs had any “untouchables,” meaning players the team would not consider trading.
No smart executive is going to be boxed in by that question.
“No, we’ve never operated with untouchables,” Epstein told the media. “I just think it sends the wrong message. There are guys who – given what we’re trying to accomplish – it would be virtually impossible to envision the deal that would make sense to move them.
“I just don’t believe with operating with untouchables, because why limit yourself? There are players who are so important to us on the field and in the clubhouse that you’d be going backward through whatever lens – narrow view, long view – by moving those guys. Players who have almost made themselves untouchable. It’s semantics, but we don’t talk that way.”
There are many good reasons the Cubs are not trading Bryant anytime soon or even shopping him. Among them:
• The 26-year-old Bryant is under club control for three more seasons. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
• The Cubs already have a crowded roster and can trade lesser players to fill needs, such as in the bullpen.
• Bryant is coming off a shoulder injury, which limited him to a batting line of .272/.374/.460 with 13 homers and 52 RBIs in a career-low 102 games in 2018. He spent two stints on the disabled list, from June 23 to July 11 and July 24 to Sept. 1.
However, Bryant won the MVP award in 2016 and the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2015. If healthy, Bryant is a good bet to bounce back and have a solid year.
Baseball’s hot stove will heat up soon enough, but there’s nothing cooking here.
• Bruce Miles covers the Cubs for the Daily Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.