Cubs' Kris Bryant details his struggle to find his old joy in baseball

"I'm trying all I can to kind of get back in that place," Bryant said.

(670 The Score) Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is coming off the worst season of his career in 2020 and is in the middle of another offseason of uncertainty.

Bryant had just four homers and 11 RBIs in 34 games in an injury-plagued pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when he posted a slash line of .206/.293/.351 over 147 plate appearances. While the sample size was small, it reflected the inconsistencies of the three-time All-Star. It also came with Bryant set to enter another offseason marked by trade speculation, as 2021 represents the final year of his contract with the Cubs.

Bryant, 29, has enjoyed great success in his baseball career. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2015 and followed that up by winning the NL MVP award in 2016, when the Cubs won the World Series. But his future remains uncertain as the Cubs continue to part ways with key pieces of their past success and turn their focus to the long-term picture.

With that as context, Bryant acknowledged on the Barstool Sports Red Line Radio podcast that the game of baseball often fails to bring him the joy it once did.

"At times, no," Bryant said. "It really got to me sometimes, just the stuff I was hearing.

"The first trade rumors that started to pop up, like, that really got to me. I found myself like, 'Man, is this even fun anymore? Why did I start playing this game?' Because it was fun. Obviously, there's a lot of other stuff involved. Like, you make a ton of money and there's fame and all of this. But you got to get yourself back to why I started playing.

"I just remember my first home run (as a child), running around the bases, my dad picks me up after I round third. I don't even touch home plate. But that's the kind of joy you got to find. I find myself sitting there like, 'I don't have that joy right now.' I'm trying all I can to kind of get back in that place."

The Cubs won the NL Central crown in the shortened 2020 season but were swept by the Marlins in their best-of-three wild-card round series at Wrigley Field. Change has since followed. In early December, the Cubs didn't tender contracts to oufielder Kyle Schwarber or outfielder Albert Almora Jr. In late December, they traded ace Yu Darvish to the Padres. And just this past week, they sat idly by as left-hander Jon Lester, left-hander Jose Quintana and right-hander Tyler Chatwood signed elsewhere in free agency.

Bryant, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Javier Baez each have contracts expiring after the 2021 season.