The teardown in Chicago is complete, and the final piece for a team hoping to make a deep postseason run is in place.
The Giants made one of the biggest splashes of the trade deadline, acquiring the potent bat of Kris Bryant from the Cubs on Friday to help them in their fight to stay atop the NL West against the Dodgers and Padres.
The Cubs, meanwhile, send away their 2013 second overall draft pick, 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, 2016 NL MVP and four-time All-Star as they begin to look toward the future.
Here’s how the deal looks for each team.
Kris Bryant trade grades
Simply put, this is a move the Giants had to make. After the Dodgers acquired shortstop Trea Turner and ace Max Scherzer, San Francisco needed to do something at the deadline to stay in front in the NL West and hold off Los Angeles and a dangerous San Diego team.
Not to mention, Bryant from the beginning felt like a perfect fit for the team. He can play third base, first base and any of the three outfield positions. Third baseman Evan Longoria and first baseman Brandon Belt are both on the injured list and the Giants have lacked a productive bat in left field this season. Bryant can rotate around the field as needed and help at any of those positions.
Let’s also not forget, this is Kris Bryant. He was the biggest bat to be traded this before this year’s deadline. According to Fangraphs, his 2.8 WAR ranks third among Giants hitters, behind only Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. The Giants’ team wRC+ was 106 entering play Friday, just two points behind the Doddgers and four ahead of the Padres. Bryant, with his 132 wRC+, brings them that much closer to the Dodgers and puts them that much more ahead of the Padres.
Bryant is a free agent at the end of this season, but the Giants are in contention for a World Series in 2021. This move makes them a more prepared team to win it all.
This deal might hurt the most for Cubs fans. Anthony Rizzo helped usher in the 2016 World Series championship, but Bryant was the MVP that year and he fielded the final out. And as the last of the infielders to go after Javier Baez and Rizzo had already been moved, this feels like the finishing touch of the teardown.
Despite being the best piece sold off, Bryant did not exactly bring the best return. The Giants parted with two minor leaguers: outfielder Alexander Canario and right-handed pitcher Caleb Kilian, who were ranked ninth and 30th, respectively, in the Giants’ organization, per MLB Pipeline.
The success of this deal for Chicago hinges on how Canario continues to develop. The 21-year-old has a lofty ceiling after demonstrating raw power with 36 home runs in 235 minor league games. Though not a burner, he has also swiped 45 bases. The risk with Canario is his swing-and-miss tendencies. Though he has typically posted high walk rates, he has also struck out in 24.5 percent of his minor league plate appearances. This year, he has reached his highest level of the minors to date at Single-A and has struck out 28.8 percent of the time with a 12 percent walk rate. He is slashing .235/.325/.433. The walk rate and power should help him reach the majors, but he’ll need to cut down on the strikeouts to be a major impact player.
Kilian hasn’t received the same high grades as other pitching prospects, but he has produced at every level in the minors. He has kept walks to a minimum — career 1.0 BB/9 — while still managing to rack up the strikeouts — 10.1 K/9. Since being drafted in the eighth round in 2019, Kilian has a 1.79 ERA across 100 2/3 innings in the minors. He was promoted to Double-A early this season and has pitched to a 2.43 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 63 innings there. He has shown plus velocity at times and has a nice curveball, but scouts believe his stuff will ultimately only be enough to keep him as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Getting a big return for Bryant wasn’t going to be easy because the Cubs were essentially backed into a corner with the All-Star set to become a free agent at the end of the year. But reliever Craig Kimbrel, who has a $16 million club option for 2022 with a $1 million buyout, netted a better return that doesn’t come with the same risk as betting on Canario.