St. Louis Cardinals rival not expected to sign top free agent

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Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on October 2, 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)
Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on October 2, 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Cubs are not expected to sign Kris Bryant, meaning the Cardinals won’t have to worry about him again in the NL Central.

Immediately after signing Marcus Stroman, the expectation – at least from media members – was that the Chicago Cubs would pursue another big name free agent.

The names connected to the Cubs include Carlos Correa and Trevor Story and that, by all indications, both remain in play. Another name that had been recently speculated with the Cubs was Kris Bryant, but there is little-to-no chance that he will return to Chicago, David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago told The Baseball Insiders podcast.

It comes as expected – after being traded in July, it was never imaginable that Bryant would entertain going back to Chicago – but it still comes as good news for the Cardinals. Bryant, of course, is a very good offensive threat and is versatile defensively, capable of playing all three outfield positions while playing a solid third base. He would have filled a need for the Cubs, but he is expected to sign elsewhere, with Bryant drawing interest from the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets, among others.

Still, it’s clear that the Cubs intend to spend big money this winter and that Correa and Story are realistic options. Of the two, Story may be more realistic – he will come cheaper and command less years – and such a deal would prevent him from reuniting with Nolan Arenado with the Cardinals.

There have been no indications, however, that the Cardinals are in on Story. If anything, the Cardinals are looking at other areas of the roster – bullpen, rotation, first/third base – and appear content with Paul DeJong and Edmundo Sosa at shortstop. So, while going from close friends and teammates to division rivals would be an interesting twist for Arenado and Story, it’s a plausible scenario that could gain some traction once the lockout is lifted.

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But Bryant is not going to return to the Cubs, and that counts as good news for the Cardinals.

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