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Central Notes: Bryant, Cruz, Alberto, White Sox

Despite myriad trade rumors that have centered on him over the past several months, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told reporters (including Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune) that he’s still open to a contract extension with the team. “I’ve always said I’ve been open and willing to hear what (the Cubs) say and take it with open arms and consider everything that’s thrown my way,” Bryant said. “I think I’ve communicated that to them.” Bryant is scheduled to become a free agent next winter, but in the meantime, he’ll make $19.5MM this season. It doesn’t seem any team has jumped at the chance of taking on that type of money for Bryant – even though he’s a former MVP who has typically held his own, he had a difficult 2020 campaign. Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer suggested earlier this month that he expects Bryant to open 2021 with the club.

  • It may have taken longer than expected for the Twins to re-sign designated hitter Nelson Cruz, whom they inked to a one-year, $13MM guarantee earlier this month. The Twins believed they’d keep Cruz throughout the process, though, as president of baseball operations Derek Falvey told MLB Network Radio on Thursday that “we passed on some other players” who could have prevented them from bringing back Cruz. The identities of those players aren’t known, but the Twins would have been hard-pressed to upgrade at DH over Cruz, who slashed an incredible .308/.394/.626 with 57 home runs in 735 plate appearances with the team from 2019-20.
  • The Royals’ Hanser Alberto only received a minor league deal during the winter, though it sounds as if he has a good chance to earn a spot on their season-opening roster. Manager Mike Matheny called the addition of Alberto a “sneaky good signing” earlier this week, Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star writes. Alberto spent the previous two seasons with the Orioles before joining the Royals. Alberto didn’t hit for much power or draw many walks in Baltimore, but he did see quite a bit of time at two infield positions (second and third) and make life difficult on left-handed pitchers, against whom he slashed .394/.411/.532 in 280 trips to the plate.
  • The White Sox have hired Todd Steverson as a special assistant to executive vice president Ken Williams, James Fegan of The Athletic tweets. Steverson spent 2014-19 as the team’s hitting coach – a role he held with the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate last season. He’ll focus on scouting in his new job with the White Sox, per Fegan.
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