The Seattle Mariners acquired outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez from the Cincinnati Reds on Monday in a blockbuster deal. The Mariners have been in the market all offseason long to add extra offense and this deal certainly accomplished that goal. However, the team had previously been linked to former MVP Kris Bryant. But the odds of Seattle signing Bryant became far less likely following this move. MLB insider Jim Bowden believes that the Mariners trade “opens the door” for two other teams to pursue Bryant in free agency.
Kris Bryant's Two Potential Suitors
The first team who will likely benefit the most is the Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia has been linked to Bryant seemingly all off-season for two main reasons. First off, Bryce Harper and Bryant both grew up in Las Vegas and played baseball with one another, so their relationship could be grounds for a reunion in Philly. Secondly, the Phillies could use the extra offense and defensive help. They don't feature a true third baseman, as young Alec Bohm has not proven to be their everyday guy at the hot corner. Additionally, Philadelphia could take advantage of Bryant's versatility and utilize him in the outfield as well.
And implementing Bryant in a lineup that already features sluggers such as Harper and Rhys Hoskins could be lethal.
The other team that figures to benefit from Seattle's deal is the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies franchise direction is fairly unclear at the moment but they have reportedly been in the mix to sign Bryant. The Rockies dealt Nolan Arenado away last year and are expected to lose Trevor Story in free agency this offseason. Although they are still in the midst of a re-tooling phase, it appears that they may be interested in building around Bryant.
The former Cub is a proven winner who helped lead Chicago to their first World Series since 1908 back in 2016. The Rockies believe he is someone who can come in and be a mentor for their young roster while still producing at a high level.
Kris Bryant is a talented player who is still just 30 years old. He is going to receive a large contract this offseason, the only question is who will he sign with?
Technically, Seattle is still in play. But the Winker-Suarez deal eliminates them as the favorites to land Bryant. The Mets could also be an option, but they have already spent a significant amount of money this offseason. And the Giants appear to have moved on barring a change of heart.
So it all leads to Philadelphia and Colorado. Both teams are looking to add a franchise star and Bryant certainly fits that billing. If he wants to win now and play with an old friend, then the Phillies would be the best destination for him. But if he fancies receiving the opportunity to become the immediate superstar on a rebuilding team then we could see him head to the Rockies.
We should find out Bryant's decision in the coming days given that Spring Training games begin this week.