Next in our Contender November series, the Detroit Tigers could look to Kris Bryant as a player to fill their super-utility role for the Detroit Tigers next season and beyond
The Detroit Tigers mentioned that Eduardo Rodriguez’s postseason experience was a factor when deciding to pursue him. Could the same experience attract Giants infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant?
Welcome to our Contender November series, where we examine all the possible avenues to propel the Tigers from interesting to a winner. In this chapter, we’ll take a closer look at Kris Bryant, who has recently revived his career as a do-it-all player in the field.
Who is Kris Bryant?
After getting drafted in the 18th round out of his Las Vegas high school by the Blue Jays in 2010, Bryant would ultimately go to the Chicago Cubs as the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of San Diego; a pick that was a product of the Cubs’ tank.
From there, Bryant would have a quick rise through the minor leagues and make his MLB debut in 2015 as a 23-year-old with the Cubs. Of course, Bryant only appeared in 151 games that year because of the strange service time loophole that exists within the Collective Bargaining Agreement; an issue that is expected to be addressed as part of the next agreement.
The following year, Bryant would achieve the NL MVP Award after supplying a 7.3 bWAR season; 39 home runs, 102 RBI’s, and a .292/.385/.554 line on the year. The Cubs would break their World Series curse that same season.
Bryant became a replacement-level defender at third base in 2017 and following that year, the club began moving him around more. In 2018, Bryant appeared at third base in 86 games while also playing the outfield in 27 games and first base in 4 games that same season. His future brought more of the same.
Following his trade to the Giants at the 2021 trade deadline, the four-time all-star would essentially split his third base and outfield work evenly and has continued to play slightly below replacement level defense. The good news is that Bryant’s skill at the plate has more than offset his shortcomings in the field; supplying a 3.3 oWAR in 2021 with both clubs while hitting .265/.353/.481 across 144 games.
What Kris Bryant would do for the Detroit Tigers
His versatility is key, here.
Bryant would represent a tool in the AJ Hinch toolbelt to better exploit match-ups while keeping his regulars fresh. Although they played primarily different positions, I envision a Niko Goodrum-like role for Bryant overall; giving Miggy a breather at first when they need Schoop at second, giving Candelario the occasional off-day, and limiting the exposure of youngsters Akil Baddoo and Riley Greene to those nasty left-handed pitchers.
Typically with utility profiles, their calling card is their defensive chops; Bryant is a bit of the inverse. His bat warrants a position in the lineup every day, and thanks to his ability to play multiple positions, managers can mix and match as necessary depending on the needs the team has on any given day.
The cost of the Detroit Tigers signing Kris Bryant
First, let’s put away this notion that the Detroit Tigers would need to ‘overpay’ for a free agent. The team has drastically improved, they have a highly thought-of manager, and their investments already in Tucker Barnhart and Eduardo Rodriguez are signals to the rest of the market that they are trying to build. The Detroit Tigers will need to pay market value, as will anyone else.
Bryant will be 30 in January, which may ultimately hinder his contract length. There is some competition for his role in players like Eduardo Escobar and Kyle Seager, but Bryant is the youngest out of the bunch and has the best offensive output.
The New York Post pegged him to the Mariners for six years and $140 million. I see that being far more aggressive than any team will go for his services, but maybe I’m wrong. I see a four-year, $80 million deal, maybe five years and $100 million at best, but again, maybe I am missing his marketability.
Nevertheless, Kris Bryant would be a nice play to augment the first base issue with Miggy while supplying the offense that this team is looking to add.