We continue our dive into what is on the mind of fans of the Seattle Mariners and we come upon a contract offer for Cubs star Kris Bryant. Does it work?
So we feel pretty confident that when the team is ready to compete for a division, the Mariners are going to spend money to get better. How much money is yet to be seen. But thanks to the delay in the 2020 MLB season and the likelihood of having no minor league baseball until 2021, it would only be fair to push back the team’s timeline one year. So instead of 2021 being the first time the team may compete for a wild card spot, we may be looking at 2022.
And if that is the case, perhaps it won’t be this winter where the Mariners go out and spend money, but rather the winter of 2021, where the free-agent market is currently expected to be one of the best in recent memory. One such free agent is expected to be Cubs 3B/OF Kris Bryant, which has gotten @pasquology thinking:
So let’s look at this question from two angles: is the proposed deal a good one for the Mariners? And is the proposal a good one for Kris Bryant? Let’s start with the Mariners’ side of things. Is Kris Bryant, who would be entering his age-30 season, worth $20 million a year? Yes. No doubt. That would be an absolute coup for the Mariners.
But if you’re Bryant, this is a bad opening bid. Bryant has a Rookie of the Year, and MVP, and 3 All-Star game appearances in his first 5 seasons. Bryant is going to be looking for $30 million AAV, which is the new number you have to get to be paid “like a star”.
Now, this doesn’t mean that he will get $30 million AAV. He could get more or he could get less. Bryant hasn’t been himself the past 2 seasons. From 2015-2017, Bryant racked up 18.1 bWAR, an average of 6 WAR per season. But since 2018, Bryant has managed just 5.6 bWAR in 2 seasons combined.
Now that number is a bit skewed because Bryant missed 50+ games in 2018 but he still wouldn’t have been close to posting another 6 WAR season. Bryant will have an abbreviated 2020 (hopefully) and a full 2021 season to “right the ship” and has a decent chance to do that. But Bryant may also be traded before becoming a free agent which could either help or hinder him.
There are some worrisome factors in Bryant’s game, including a steadily falling barrel rate and an identically slumping hard-hit rate. Bryant just isn’t hitting the ball nearly as hard as he was in his first and second years. Of course, Bryant has still been a productive player since but hasn’t exactly produced the kind of value that screams $30 million a year type of player.
I think if you want a good starting point 2-years out of free agency, you should be talking about a 6-year deal in the neighborhood of $180 million. This can obviously change before his time comes. If he can find his 2015 and 2016 forms, he’ll probably make a little more. If he is “stuck” as the 2019 version of himself, you are going to start to move towards the $20 million AAV number mentioned above.
Assuming Bryant doesn’t fall completely off the cliff, I have a hard time imagining him signing for less than $24 million AAV when his time comes. But Bryant would be a good fit for Seattle and he could, in theory, replace Seager at third base when the Mariners are ready to compete.
Thank you for the question @pasquology, I hope we answered it well. Please follow him on Twitter and while you’re at it, go ahead and give us a follow @sodomojoFS. Let us know what you think in the comments below. Should the Mariners pursue Kris Bryant next winter? What would you want Jerry Dipoto to pay him?