Wednesday April 8, 2015
Welcome back, baseball! We missed you!
We have so many stories to cover. Yet, the most prominent one is also the most unlikely.
The Chicago Cubs retooled their lineup, front office and coaching staff this past offseason. They brought in John Maddon as their new manager and signed free agent pitcher Jon Lester to be their ace.
Their new lineup is a healthy mix of veterans and young guns. Even their minor league players represent a strong youth movement.
That wasn’t more evident than the rise of prospect Kris Bryant.
The third baseman batted .425 in 14 games. Nine of his 17 hits wee home runs, and he was demoted to the minor leagues.
How could someone with Bryant’s great spring training be sent down? Well, it’s purely a business decision.
The Cubs decided to send Bryant down to keep him in the organization further. General Manager Theo Epstein and the Cubs front office can now keep Bryant for another year, if he stays in Class AAA for 12 days.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times explains the technical terms in his article Cubs’ big move to demote top-slugging prospect Kris Bryant shows MLB is all business:
Teams control players for six full seasons before free agency. A season lasts 183 days and players earn a year’s service time with 172 days on the roster.
So, by limiting Bryant to 171 roster days in 2015, they’ll control him for nearly seven years instead of six.
Did I forget to mention Bryant’s agent is Scott Boras, the super agent that gets teams in bidding wars with themselves while giving his clients max money?
Let’s not also forget the current starting third baseman, Mike Olt. The 26-year-old corner infielder isn’t exactly known for his bat. He played 89 games last season, hitting .160 in that span.
Let’s play devil’s advocate here. What if Bryant doesn’t become anything?
Having a great spring training does not mean players can perform under the big leagues. Bryant should have question marks around his name. Can he perform under the primetime lights?
We’ll know eventually. There’s no way Bryant spends his time in the minors for the majority of the 2015 campaign. If Olt cannot perform at bat, expect Bryant to come up in a hurry.
Whether he becomes the Cubs’ answer at third is a different question altogether. Here’s hoping that conundrum is solved sooner rather than later.
Copyright @ 2007
*Kris Bryant stats from MLB.com
*Mike Olt stats from Baseball-Reference.com
*Geoff Baker is a columnist for the Seattle Times. You can follow him on Twitter @GeoffBakerTIMES.