Kris Bryant hears the speculation and chatter and wants to make it clear — he hopes to remain with the Chicago Cubs.
However, the trade rumors swirl with Bryant slated to become a free agent after the 2021 season.
“I really love it here and I love playing here,” Bryant told reporters this week in an interview session on Zoom. “And I love everything about this city and the people and the people in this clubhouse and all around. I’ve never not wanted to be here, regardless of whatever has happened in the past, or whatever people have perceived about my situation.”
Bryant said he is “open to hearing anything and everything” from the Cubs in terms of keeping him in Chicago for the long haul.
The 28-year-old third baseman is one of three key infielders set to become a free agent after the 2021 campaign with shortstop Javier Baez and first baseman Anthony Rizzo being the others.
Bryant would like to see the whole crew — all of whom were key cogs on the 2016 World Series championship team — hang around.
“It would be really cool to just have everybody stay here and play together and see what we’ve got,” Bryant said. “And when we’re old and fat and we’re tired, we’re out of here. That’d be awesome. But who knows? It might not happen that way.
“We’re just really trying to enjoy the time, enjoying the craziness of the situation that we’re in. And enjoying each other from maybe a little further away with masks on.”
The coronavirus pandemic certainly will have an effect on trade discussions during the upcoming 60-game season. The trade deadline is set for Aug. 31 and Bryant said he has no interest in being dealt this summer.
“I would like it not to be a concern,” Bryant said. “I would like to think that I wouldn’t be shipped out in the middle of a pandemic.”
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said he can’t promise anything, and knows the business of baseball will go on.
“You’re going to have to option players out or send players to different places,” Hoyer told reporters. “There’s no question that that’s an uncomfortable thing to think about from our perspective, and obviously Kris is voicing that it’s uncomfortable from a player perspective.
“That’s something that we have to talk through, but there’s going to be transactions this year. There’s sort of no way to avoid that, whether they be big or small.”
Just more than two weeks prior to the scheduled start of the 2020 season, both Bryant and Hoyer agree that now is not the time for contract talks.
“That’s really not where our mind is,” Hoyer said. “We want this to be effective, for this club to get off on the right foot. That’s really where our mindset is, and I think given the things we’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis, that’s not something that we’re discussing.”
Bryant, the 2016 National League MVP, has a .284 career average with 138 homers and 403 RBIs in five seasons with the Cubs.
The three-time All-Star batted .282 with 31 homers and 77 RBIs in 147 games last season.