This is a 2020 photo of Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. This image reflects the 2020 … [+]
Recently, this writer suggested that the Philadelphia Phillies need more offensive firepower to compete with their National League East rivals. Especially in the outfield. True, when the season finally begins, if Andrew McCutchen returns healthy from his June 2019 knee surgery and if Bryce Harper delivers another solid season, the outlook will brighten.
Trading for Chicago Cubs outfielder/third baseman Kris Bryant would shed an entirely different perspective on the overall Phillies roster. Bryant would add much needed production in the middle of the Phillies batting order. A tandem of Harper and Bryant would inject offensive life and vitality, forcing the opposing pitchers to navigate a much tougher lineup.
Harper and Bryant grew up together in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were boyhood friends who played against each other in competing high schools. Prior to their high school days, Harper and Bryant played together on the Southern Nevada Bulldogs when Bryant was 14 and Harper was 13. They are still friends.
DYNAMIC 2019 STATISTICS
Left-handed hitting Harper and right-handed hitting Bryant would produce the type of formidable duo of experienced, power hitting outfielders any club would welcome. Harper is 27 and in the prime of his career. Bryant is 28 and is also playing in what should be his most productive years. If one combines their 2019 statistics, the duo hit 66 home runs with Harper hitting 35 of them. Harper knocked in 114 runs, Bryant 77. Harper stole 15 bases in 18 attempts. Bryant was successful stealing in all four of his attempts. They would form a dangerous combination. Bryant is capable of even better statistics than last season. An added bonus is his ability to play third base.
THE PRICE FOR BRYANT
Of course, Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies after becoming a free agent with the Washington Nationals. Harper, like Bryant, was a 1st round draft pick. Harper was chosen first overall in the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals. The Chicago Cubs made Bryant the second player taken in the 2013 draft.
To obtain a former 1st round draft pick in his baseball prime, the Phillies would have to offer the Cubs a package of quality players in return. To this observer, a number of highly regarded, top of the Phillies organization prospects would be the focal point of any deal. Philadelphia has several players that may fill organizational needs for Chicago.
It is important to keep in mind that the Cubs nearly depleted their farm system in their successful effort to win a World Championship in 2016. They have remained competitive thereafter. Recently, however, the Cubs farm system engine has been running on fumes.
Players such as Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres and White Sox budding outfield star Eloy Jimenez as well as pitcher Dylan Cease were obtained from the Cubs farm system. Jorge Soler now provides power to the Kansas City Royals, the result of a trade with the Cubs. There were more along the way. Now, the Cubs prospect cupboard isn’t as full as they may wish. Young, controllable talent from the Phillies would help.
The addition of Kris Bryant would add some much needed buzz to the Phillies. In this writer’s opinion, Bryant could add so much to the Phillies, sending two or three of the team’s young prospects to the Cubs might close the talent gap between them and their fierce division rivals, Washington and Atlanta.
It must be remembered that the Phillies record of 81-81 last year saw them finish behind Atlanta at (97-6) Washington (93-69) and New York (86-76). A major jump-start is in order for the pending 2020 season.
The two primary players in the package this writer proposes in a trade for Kris Bryant are:
INF Alec Bohm
RHP Spencer Howard
A third player could be added to make the package more appealing. A player such as prospect infielder Kendall Simmons, a 2018 6th round draft pick may help sweeten the deal.
Bohm and Howard are the top Phillies organizational prospects by the standards of most analysts, including this scout. They are the cream of the Phillies prospect crop. However, to gain the offense Bryant offers, a high price must be paid.
After losing a grievance against Major League Baseball to gain a year more service time credit, Bryant will become a free agent following the 2021 season. Assuming baseball is played in 2020 and they act before the new season begins, Philadelphia would control Bryant for two complete seasons. The price to obtain Bryant would be similar to what the Cubs gave up to obtain closer Aroldis Chapman for Torres and other prospects in July 2016. Chapman helped the Cubs win a World Series.
ALEC BOHM-3B/1B-BR-6-5, 225 POUNDS-AGE 23-GRADE 55
This old scout was able to evaluate Bohm in the recent Arizona Fall League. Bohm pounded the ball with highly credible hitting mechanics and a very solid barrel approach. He hit .361 in 78 plate appearances with two homers and nine RBIs.
Prior to the Fall League, Bohm played at Class-A, Class-A Advanced and Double A last year, hitting a combined .305 with 21 homers and 80 RBIs. Bohm is a legitimate offensive prospect as a power threat with upside.
Bohm is slow afoot at third base with poor agility and slow reactions. He profiles better at first base, but he may be defensively challenged regardless of position. Ideally Bohm profiles best for this scout as a designated hitter. That stated, Bohm’s offense would play well in windy Wrigley Field. It would be a big loss for the Phillies, but to obtain a quality player, the return must be fair.
SPENCER HOWARD-RHP-6-2, 205 POUNDS-AGE 23-GRADE 60
Howard is among the best pitching prospects in baseball and losing him could set the Phillies future starting rotation back a bit. That could hurt, as the Phillies have starting pitching issues as well as outfield challenges. But Howard might have to be included to fetch Bryant.
A 2017 2nd round pick out of Cal Poly, Howard also appeared in this past Arizona Fall League, where this observer was able to evaluate several of his six starts. He threw to a 1-1 record with a sparkling 2.11 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 21.1 innings pitched. Those innings were in addition to the 71 innings he threw over three 2019 Phillies minor league classifications including Rookie League, Class-A Advanced and Double-A.
Howard uses a very complete repertoire that includes a fastball at 97-99 miles per hour, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. All his pitches are quality offerings, with his fastball/slider combination setting up the changeup to change eye levels and keep the hitter off balance.
Howard has outstanding mound presence and pitches with both command and control. He repeats a very clean and uncomplicated delivery and isn’t afraid to throw his high velocity fastball up in the zone, inducing hitters to chase the pitch.
It is likely the Phillies plans include Howard being ready for the big league club this August. Of course, that scenario isn’t as likely now with baseball shut down. If he were traded to the Cubs, a 2021 debut would be more likely.
KENDALL SIMMONS-INF-BR-6-2, 180 POUNDS-AGE 19- GRADE 45
Simmons may be ideal in the trade because he can play second base, shortstop and third base. He was selected out of Tattnall Square Academy in Macon, Georgia.
A raw prospect, Simmons spent 2019 at Short Season Williamsport in the New York-Penn League. He hit .234 with a surprising 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in only 205 plate appearances. He has some true pop in his bat and he may be an attractive addition to a potential trade for Bryant.
A work in progress and needing repetition and experience on both sides of the ball, Simmons is a good athlete with the potential to improve. His offense is ahead of his defensive game at this time.
A GOOD DEAL FOR BOTH CLUBS
The best baseball trades help both clubs.
There is no question Kris Bryant could give the Phillies lineup the type of offensive infusion that could increase their chances of closing the 16-game gap between them and the division winning Atlanta Braves.
Adding Alec Bohm, Spencer Howard and Kendall Simmons would boost the organizational depth of the Cubs and give them some much needed life in the competitive National League Central.