(RADIO.COM Sports) Four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor may not be the final major acquisition for the Mets this offseason.
The Mets have had discussions with the Cubs about third baseman Kris Bryant, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported. The Cubs are amid an offseason of change, as Theo Epstein resigned as the president of baseball operations and the team traded ace Yu Darvish to the Padres in a package that brought back veteran right-hander Zach Davies and four young prospects. Both Bryant and catcher Willson Contreras have landed in trade speculation recently after Darvish was dealt.
Indications are that the Mets, led by new owner Steve Cohen, would still like to add another star position player after signing catcher James McCann and acquiring Lindor already this winter. Longtime Astros outfielder George Springer is seemingly their top target in free agency, with Andy Martino of SNY reporting Thursday that the Mets have made an offer of "somewhat less than $150 million" over five seasons to Springer. Still, there's a bridge to gap, as Springer's camp appears to be seeking nearly $175 million, according to reports.
Perhaps the Mets' interest in Bryant is done with the hopes that it will get Springer's camp to lower its asking price if it believes New York could turn elsewhere for another key bat. Either way, Bryant could make sense for the Mets, who don't have a set-in-stone third baseman.
Bryant, a three-time All-Star who turned 29 earlier this week, struggled in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, slashing .206/.293/.351 in 34 games while dealing with injuries. While Bryant may never return to the form he showed early in his career and amid his MVP season in 2016, he hit 31 home runs and posted a 4.8 fWAR as recently as 2019, so there's reason to believe he could benefit from a change of scenery and still produce at a high level.
From their perspective, the Cubs are interested in catcher Francisco Alvarez, Puma reported. Alvarez is the No. 2 overall prospect in the Mets' system, per MLB Pipeline. While Mets president Sandy Alderson on Thursday expressed a hesitancy to part with top prospects, the Mets did just sign McCann to a four-year deal to catch for them. That said, Alvarez is only 19 years old, so it stands to reason that he could succeed McCann as the team's everyday catcher.
Bryant, who's under contract for one more season, has landed in trade speculation in the past couple winters. He has previously been linked to the Boston Red Sox, but there's no indication now that Boston chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is attempting to acquire him. The Nationals were connected to Bryant early this offseason, but top baseball executive Mike Rizzo later said the franchise isn't pursuing Bryant.
In any event, whether the Mets and Cubs link up and complete a trade for Bryant, these are two major-market teams headed in opposite directions. The Mets, under new ownership, appear to be a legitimate contender in the crowded NL East. The Cubs, on the other hand, seem to be retooling, if not altogether rebuilding.