The Chicago Cubs have reportedly been shopping Kris Bryant for most of the offseason. For the most part, the top pursuer has been thought to be the Atlanta Braves. Now it appears a new team is in the mix.

According to The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma, the Washington Nationals could be about to start an official pursuit of the third baseman. Sharma recently wrote a prediction piece about where he thought Bryant might end up.

He also wrote about what he thinks the Chicago Cubs third baseman is going to be able to accomplish over the course of his career.

While most of the piece was indeed just the writer's predictions, he added that those predictions were founded on things he had been hearing from sources surrounding the Cubs and their attempts to trade away one of their best players.

Smokescreen for Donaldson?

As Bleachernation points out, Sharma is quick to point out that his sources might be feeding him the rumors for another reason. “Sources indicate that the Nationals may be ready to make a run at trading for Bryant, but those could also be signals to push Donaldson to make a decision sooner than later.”

Josh Donaldson is the most sought after third baseman still on the market. He's also a free agent, which means the Nationals wouldn't have to send another team anyone.

The Atlanta Braves have been mentioned plenty over the offseason as also pursuing Donaldson.

It appears that whoever is the loser in this particular sweepstakes is going to be coming to the Chicago Cubs for Plan B.

The waiting game

Cubs' faithful have long known that there are two factors that are dictating when they will find out about Kris Bryant.

There is the pending grievance before the league. Should Bryant win that grievance, he would be a free agent after this season. If he loses that grievance, he would be a free agent after the 2021 season.

When he is able to move on is dictating how much the Chicago Cubs can ask for him. The rule of thumb that has been accepted by analysts all over Major League Baseball is the Cubs cannot or will not deal Bryant before the grievance is decided upon.

That process is supposed to be finished later in January.

The Cubs seem to have frozen all transactions until they clear Bryant off the books. More than a few analysts have noticed the team isn't even in on players they normally would be, because sources inside the club have said they need to wait until they know what is going to happen with Bryant.

For now, rumors of Kris Bryant going to the Nationals are a ways off. Josh Donaldson needs to pick his team and Kris Bryant needs to find out how much longer he's required to be a Chicago Cub before Theo Epstein and company are able to really start moving in the offseason.