Here’s the thing that makes Kris Bryant such a desirable commodity on the trade market: Pretty much every single contending team can look at Bryant and think, “Yep, we’ve got a spot for him!” 

That’s rare with a position player, but Bryant has all kinds of versatility. Basically, he’s not a middle infielder or a catcher, but that’s it: Just this year alone, he’s started 25 games at third base, 24 in right field, 19 in left field, 10 at first base and 10 in center field. He’s not necessarily a Gold Glove guy at any position, but he’s certainly capable at each position, which adds a lot of extra value. 

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And he doesn’t mind moving around, even during games. We listed his “games started” totals, but here’s the total number of games he’s played at each position: 28 at third, 28 in right, 27 in left field, 12 at first and 14 in center. It’s a manager’s dream to be able to go all queens gambit with defensive positioning. 

He’s a free agent after this year, which means he’s a rental. For some teams, that’s bad. For some, it’s good. But if the goal is to get to October — or win a World Series — that’s a minor detail, not a roadblock. This year, he was great in April and May, then crummy in June. He has a .304 average and .900 OPS in July. 

Where will he be in August? Let’s take a look at six potential destinations. 

7. Yankees

Why he fits: We’re trying to cover all the bases here. This doesn’t seem likely — the Yankees already have too many right-handed hitters in their lineup — but if one of the goals is to add a bat and they don’t like the left-handed options on the trade market, they could do worse than Bryant. Aaron Judge is having a fine year in right field, but let’s take a look at the OPS+ numbers for the players who have played at least six games in left field for the Yankees this year …

Miguel Andujar: 83
Clint Frazier: 77
Brett Gardner: 75
Tim Locastro: 41 (including his time in Arizona)
Mike Tauchman: 54

Remember, the league average number for that stat is 100. So, basically, every left fielder the Yankees have used this season has been well below league average. Yeah, they could use Bryant, and don’t forget he could spell Gardner (and his .197 batting average) in center, too, though he’s probably not a full-time answer there. 

6. Mariners

Why he fits:  Who would have pegged the Mariners as contenders before the start of the season? But here they are, one game out of an AL wild-card spot and just six back of the Astros in the West. For a franchise that hasn’t been in the postseason since 2001 — the longest streak in baseball — you know they’ll at least explore aggressive upgrade options. And remember their GM? The compulsive trader himself, Jerry DiPoto. Seattle’s pitching is serviceable, but the offense needs help. Kyle Seager’s established at third, and same with Mitch Haniger in right, but Bryant would be a massive upgrade in left field or DH.

5. Braves

Why he fits: Even now, the week of the trade deadline, it’s hard to know what the Braves will do. They’ve had a lot of problems finding any traction at all this year. But they’re still only a handful of games out of first in the NL East, and trading for Bryant would kind of be taking the slugger away from another team that would benefit from KB’s bat (spoiler). Add Bryant, stick him at third base and move Austin Riley to the outfield (he’s a better hot-corner defender than Riley), win NL East. Simple as that, right? They’ve already traded for one Cubs outfielder; Joc Pederson has two homers and nine RBIs in 11 games with Atlanta. 

4. Phillies

Why he fits: Nothing has really gone according to plan since the Phillies signed free agent Bryce Harper to that massive deal before the 2019 season. They’ve been a profoundly .500 club during his three seasons with Philadelphia, and they’re sitting here a game over .500 in 2021. But they’re only 3 1/2 behind the Mets in the NL East, and Bryant checks a lot of boxes for the Phillies. It doesn’t hurt that Bryant and Harper are friends, too. Reunite the friends, rally for a playoff berth and put the frustrations of rampant mediocrity in the rear-view mirror.  

3. Brewers

Why he fits: Would the Cubs REALLY trade Bryant to the division rival that just sprinted past them in June and delivered the crushing blow to Chicago’s 2021 season? If the only goal is to build a better team, and the Brewers make the best offer, yeah, they absolutely should trade him up the road to Milwaukee. Sure, the Brewers are a rival of the Cubs, but it’s not like they’re the Cardinals, right? It’s not that kind of century-long rivalry.

The Brewers have had all kinds of injury issues this year, and while making low-risk deals for a guy such as Rowdy Tellez could possibly work out (so far so good), adding an established bat such as Bryant figures to make a much bigger impact. He could play center field on days when the club wants more offense from the position. He could play third base if Luis Urias — who has 13 homers in 94 games this year, after six in 124 career games heading into 2021 — slows down, or if he’s needed at another position. He could play first. The Brewers are a team that will contend for the NL’s spot in the World Series, and adding a versatile middle-of-the-order bat like Bryant is pretty much exactly what they need. 

2. Athletics

Why he fits: Even though the A’s have hit a rough patch, this is an Oakland team that has the pieces to finally make that long-awaited deep run into October. Well, most of the pieces. The A’s could use another impact bat. Obviously, Bryant wouldn’t play third as long as Matt Chapman’s healthy, but he’d be an immediate upgrade at either corner outfield spot or the DH. Lots of smart folks had the A’s connected to Nelson Cruz, but he wound up with the Rays. And while lots of teams would view Bryant’s status as a rental as a bad thing, the lack of financial commitments might actually be seen as a bonus for the A’s. 

1. Mets

Why he fits: It’s probably not a surprise that the Mets are in the top spot here, considering that they were listed as the most likely potential destination in the piece a few weeks ago. No contender needs an offensive kick in the pants more than the Mets. Sure, maybe the biggest problem is that they just need their established guys to get healthy and/or hit better — hi, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor — but at some point a team with visions of winning the World Series title can’t just sit around and wait. Adding Bryant’s versatile bat to the lineup is kind of a dream solution. Bryant gives a team lots of options. 

Oh, and there’s this: Imagine the Mets losing multiple 1-0 or 2-1 games in a playoff series — the 1-0 would be Jacob deGrom’s start, of course — after not making any sort of move to add a bat before the deadline? Mets fans would not be happy (and neither would the players). And you know the new owner, Steve Cohen, is eager to make a big deadline impact. 





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