Kris Bryant is uncertain whether he is in his final days as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
However, the 29-year-old is certain about a couple things. He loves playing the game, and he has appreciated all of his time in Chicago regardless of whether he gets moved before the trade deadline.
“Wherever I am — if I’m here or another team — I’ll just have a good time with it,” Bryant said. “But I’m fine. Totally good. Ready to go. I’m feeling much better playing baseball. Just got to focus on the baseball things, and it takes your mind off all the other (stuff).”
Bryant and the Cubs will welcome the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night in the third installment of a four-game series. Chicago won the series opener 6-5 on Monday before Cincinnati evened the series with a 7-4 victory on Tuesday.
While Bryant wonders about his future with the Cubs, the Reds made a pre-deadline trade Tuesday night, acquiring relievers Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson from the New York Yankees for a player to be named.
Cessa, a 29-year-old right-hander, possesses the best ERA of his career this season, 2.82. In three outings during July, he is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, having given up just one hit in 5 2/3 innings.
Wilson, a 33-year-old left-hander, is 1-1 with a career-worst 7.50 ERA in 21 outings.
Right-hander Tyler Mahle (7-3, 3.92 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday for the Reds. He is coming off four straight no-decisions, including his last time out, when he allowed two runs on five hits in five innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
Mahle, 26, already has set a career high with 131 strikeouts in 105 2/3 innings. He needs one more victory to surpass his career high of seven, set in 2018.
In 11 career starts against the Cubs, Mahle is 4-2 with a 3.47 ERA. He has 18 walks and 70 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings.
The Cubs will counter with right-hander Zach Davies (6-6, 4.30 ERA). He is looking for back-to-back victories after limiting the Arizona Diamondbacks to two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings on Friday.
Davies will try to harness his command against Cincinnati. He leads the major leagues with 54 walks; he also has 70 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings.
The 28-year-old has made 15 starts against the Reds in his career. He is 3-4 with a 4.28 ERA.
One player Davies will have to watch out for in the Cincinnati lineup is veteran slugger Joey Votto, who hit a pair of home runs Tuesday. Votto is No. 3 on the Reds’ all-time list with 312 homers, and he is hitting .271 with 17 long balls and 53 RBIs this season.
Votto also made a great defensive play Tuesday, throwing out Tyler Stephenson at home after catching a popup in foul territory.
“I just saw him have to really lean in and be off balance,” Reds manager David Bell said. “So, to have the presence to come up and make a throw like that … I’ve seen Joey happy and play with joy and feeling good about his offense, but if it’s possible, I would have to say that his defense is more important to him than his offense.”
For the Reds, Mahle will have to pitch carefully to Bryant. On Tuesday, Bryant went deep in the ninth inning and improved his season statistics to a .269 batting average with 18 homers and 51 RBIs.
If Bryant is moved, he would consider coming back to Chicago as a free agent this winter.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Bryant said. “Like I said, I love this place. It’s all I’ve known. The familiarity of being here and this city and the people make it a lot easier to say, ‘Yeah, of course I’d love to play here.'”
Maybe he will for the rest of the season. Maybe he won’t.
“I don’t know where I fit into those plans,” Bryant said. “But we’ll find out either today or a couple days or two months from now.”
–Field Level Media