Are Chicago Cubs considering trading Contreras, Bryant?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is still unhappy about starting the 2015 season in the minor leagues, which cost him the chance to be a free agent next winter.

    Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is still unhappy about starting the 2015 season in the minor leagues, which cost him the chance to be a free agent next winter. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/10/2019 7:19 AM

The general managers meetings open in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Monday, and it's the unofficial kickoff to the offseason.

In years past, the GM meetings have helped teams get a gauge on the trade market, so look for the Cubs' Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to be having multiple conversations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Last season, the Red Sox had the highest payroll in baseball ($218 million) and failed to make the playoffs. Not only was GM Dave Dombrowski fired less than a year after winning the World Series, Boston has vowed to cut payroll.

The Cubs are in the same leaky boat.

Epstein and Hoyer are still in place, but manager Joe Maddon was jettisoned after the Cubs finished last season with an 84-78 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.

The Cubs had the second-highest payroll in baseball ($208 million) and are also likely to trade veteran talent.

"The reality is we are building something anew," Epstein told reporters the day after the season ended. "I laid out several areas where we are going to have change, including probably the player group. I can't tell you what decisions we're going to make or not make, I can just tell you we're really intent on building the Cubs' next championship team."

Here are five names to watch heading into the GM meetings:

Willson Contreras

A hamstring injury limited the 27-year-old catcher to 105 games last season, but Contreras hit a career-high 24 home runs while batting .272/.355/.533 with 64 RBI.

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He's slipped a bit defensively, but Contreras is under contractual control for the next three years. Trading him nets the Cubs some needed young talent.

Kris Bryant

Dealing the 2016 MVP would be a big shock, but not a complete surprise.

Bryant is still unhappy about starting the 2015 season in the minor leagues, which cost him the chance to be a free agent next winter.

A contract extension is an obvious strategy for the Cubs, but Bryant could be moved if he's not receptive.

Addison Russell

Arbitration eligible, Russell would likely make $5 million season if he's on the Cubs' roster.

Given his decreased performance and off-field troubles, look for Russell to be nontendered.

Kyle Gibson

Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana are all returning to the rotation next year, but Cole Hamels is not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That leaves the Cubs in need of another established starting pitcher at a reasonable cost, and Gibson fits that profile.

A free agent, the right-handed Gibson is 67-68 with a 4.52 ERA in 7 seasons with the Twins.

Howie Kendrick

Ben Zobrist has moved on, and Russell looks to be right behind him.

The Cubs are going to need some infield help, and Kendrick is a solid option on the free-agent market.

Seemingly getting better with age, the 36-year-old Kendrick hit .344/.395/.572 with 17 home runs and 62 RBI with the Nationals last season. He was even better in the playoffs for the World Series champs, batting .286 with 2 homers and 12 RBI in 17 games.

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