In the final minutes before the 4 p.m deadline, the Chicago Cubs sent their last face of the franchise to the San Francisco Giants. After trading Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees and Javier Báez to the Mets, it would have been cruel to keep Bryant in Chicago. In return, the Giants are sending back outfielder Alexander Canario and right-handed starter Caleb Killian.
After a down-year, likely caused by shoulder issues, Bryant is back to mashing like his old self. In 374 plate appearances, the former MVP is slashing .267/.358/.503 for a 132 wRC+. Per Statcast, his hard-hit rate and barrel rate are the highest they’ve been since 2016.
Bryant is a tremendous fit for the Giants. Normally a third baseman, Bryant has displayed incredible versatility this year, logging innings at third, first, left field, right field, and center field. With Evan Longoria out, the Giants have relied on Wilmer Flores and Justin Vosler to fill in. With Donovan Solano struggling, Flores will likely get more playing time at second with Bryant at third, but the Giants might prefer KB in left.
Bryant also adds a potent right-handed bat to an outfield heavy on lefties. Mike Yastrzemski, Steven Duggar, LaMonte Wade Jr. (who was NOT TRADED), and Alex Dickerson all hit from the left side. Austin Slater is the only full-time right-handed outfielder, but he has been uneven this year slashing just .229/.301/.395 for a 92 wRC+.
No matter where he plays, he makes the majors-leading Giants even better. After taking five of their last seven against LA, the Giants have a three-game lead over the Dodgers and a 5.5-game lead over the Padres. The Giants didn’t have a ton of holes to fill, but there were areas to improve. The Giants are ahead of schedule, so they were never going to be as aggressive as the Padres and Dodgers who had already invested heavily in winning now. Bryant is a great grab, but whether he’s enough to stave off the reinforced Dodgers and Padres remains to be seen.
In return, the Cubs received two players with high upside even if they look like a disappointment in comparison to the rumored package of Joey Bart and Wade. Outfielder Alexander Canario ranked ninth in the revitalized Giants system. Canario is 21-years-old, but he has played in parts of four professional seasons. At Low-A San Jose, Canario has struggled early in the season but has heated up as of late. In 274 plate appearances, he’s hit .235/.325/.433 with 9 home runs and 15 stolen bases. FanGraphs gave him a 45 FV and graded him highly on power and fielding. The high strikeout rate is cause for concern.
【Cubs Acquisition #10】— Cubs Prospects MiLB (@MilbCubs) July 30, 2021
OF Alexander Canario
SF No.9 prospect per @MLBPipeline
OPS. 758 （OBP. 325, SLG.433）
98 wRC+@alex_canario07 | #CubTogether pic.twitter.com/7d0E7MCNJ4
Caleb Killian is a 24-year-old right-handed starter who is dominating Double-A. In 63 innings, Killian has struck out 64 batters while walking just 8. Killian’s fastball can top out at 98 mph and he throws a hard cutter. His quick rise from High-A to Double-A this year could mean that he’s ready to contribute in Chicago by the end of next year.
Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score.