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Braves Potential Free Agency Target: Kris Bryant

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Kris Bryant can hit. Kris Bryant is defensively versatile. Everybody wants Kris Bryant! Only one team can have Kris Bryant!

San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

If you were to type in “Top MLB Free Agents 2021” into your search engine of choice, you probably wouldn’t even have to click on any links before finding Kris Bryant being mentioned in that conversation. Go right on ahead and do it now and you’ll see for yourself — this article will be waiting for you when you’re done.

Now that you’re back, Kris Bryant has been a star since his rookie year and now he’s entering free agency as someone who would absolutely make any team that he signs with a better one. He’s not operating at the height of his powers like he was in the first three seasons of his career, but he’s still a very good piece to have on a team that’s planning to make some noise going forward.

Aside from the fact that Kris Bryant is a very fine hitter who should be hitting for at least 120 wRC+ if healthy and not in precipitous decline, one of the main reasons why he’d serve as an instant boost for any team that signed him is his versatility. Bryant actually spent more time in 2021 playing in the outfield than he did at his usual position of third. He logged nearly 700 innings in the outfield, with the lion’s share of those innings coming at the corner outfield spots.

Bryant stuck with his usual positions of the outfield and third base once he was shipped out to San Francisco, but he also got some first base innings and a cup of coffee at shortstop under his belt during his final days over at Wrigley Field. That’s six positions for Bryant in 2021 (with five of those positional stints lasting at least 90 innings) and while his defensive metrics haven’t been glimmering and glowing in a good way, the positional versatility is still worth any potential suitors ponying up plenty of money to bring him in.

When I say ‘plenty of money,’ I mean it. If you’re one of the top free agents in any given class, that usually coincides with being one of the most expensive free agents in that aforementioned class. He’s been waiting on pins and needles for this time to come as well — he was rightfully annoyed about the Cubs playing service time games at the beginning of his career. The annoyance went to the point where he filed a grievance with the goal of being named a free agent following the 2020 season.

While that plan may have unfortunately fallen through, Kris Bryant’s time for a big pay day has come and whenever this lockout finally gets settled, a big-money deal for Bryant is probably going to follow soon after. Unless his market just completely collapses once things get going again, I’d imagine that he’s gonna pick up a five-to-eight year deal with an AAV between $24M and $26M. So let’s say that he’ll end up with something like six years and $150M.

MLB: AUG 27 Giants at Braves Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So, would the Braves be interested? How could they not be interested? It’s Kris Bryant! Unfortunately, we do live in a world where money is an object and while the Braves may be raising payroll after winning their first World Series since 1995, I’d imagine that they won’t be breaking the bank to go after a top free agent this year. It’s likely that Freddie Freeman is Atlanta’s top free agent target and if/when that deal gets done, there won’t be any more nine-figure deals being made by the Braves after that. That and the fact that there are teams who are willing to break the bank with their laser focus on Kris Bryant as a crown jewel acquisition will probably disqualify the Braves from this race.

The only way I see the Braves making a serious run at Kris Bryant is if Freddie Freeman goes elsewhere and they decide to make a splashy move in order to quell the fury that the fanbase would be stewing in should Freeman end up elsewhere. If Bryant started 2022 in a Braves uniform, he’d probably complete his move from third base to the outfield, as he’d be playing in one of those corner outfield spots while occasionally returning to the infield. Bryant’s versatility means that he can fit in at a lot of places for a lot of teams — including the Braves.

With that being said, I cannot reiterate enough how extremely unlikely it is that Kris Bryant will be joining the Braves. However, it’s not like he wouldn’t be a fit here and stranger things have happened — such as the 2021 Atlanta Braves going from being two games under .500 and third place in the NL East on August 3 to being World Series Champions on October 3. Be that as it may, reader, I think you and I both know that Kris Bryant probably won’t be signing with the Braves once baseball is back in business. Cast your gaze elsewhere, friends.