With Kris Bryant the Chicago Cubs have a conundrum on their hands. The rookie phenomenon is more than likely going to begin the 2015 MLB season in the minor leagues. This is despite being the best player for the Cubs, and perhaps playing the best among all players in MLB Spring Training. Everybody is asking how could they, why would they?
The answer is a simple one – the Cubs front office and ownership is doing what they believe is the right business move.
But is it a wise baseball decision? The possible answer might catch many by surprise. First let us take a look at the specifics of this situation.
Kris Bryant projects to be a superstar player someday. His hot spring performance proves that he can handle much of the major league pitching that he is set to face. Is he ready for the big time, yes!
Placing Bryant on the opening day roster would cost the Chicago Cubs a full year of contract control that would take place at the end of his rookie deal that as of now, is six years per MLB mandated rules. His service time as explained by Fox Sports writer C.J. Nitkowski can affect the Cubs salary structure.
If Bryant continues to be on the arc that many believes that he will be on, he stands to one of the highest paid players in the majors in his next deal.
At the rate that contracts are going today, a deal with a starting salary upwards $25 million per season is a realistic possibility. By sending him to their Triple-A affiliate, Iowa Cubs for a mere two weeks, the contract negotiations are pushed back one year.
Doing this to Bryant is best for the baseball operations, also it makes sense. The Cubs would have Bryant at a discount rate for the length of pitcher Jon Lester’s contract. Flexibility to sign other marquee free agents will be there, leaving the window of winning and sustained success wide open.
Having Kris Bryant begin his season in Iowa is not a popular choice. His agent Scott Boras took his frustration to the press. In an interview with USA Today, baseball’s super-agent went on the attack.
“You are damaging the ethics and brand of Major League Baseball. Kris Bryant has extraordinary skills. Kris Bryant is a superstar. He has distinguished himself from all players at every level he’s played.”
“The Cubs’ people want him there. Everyone says, ‘They cannot send this guy down.’ It’s too obvious.”
“This is a flat ownership decision. Do they really want to win here?”
The Cubs do want to win, but they want to be fiscally responsible as well. If that means that they will not have the services of one of their premiere players for a reported nine games, in an effort to save at least $25 million, so be it.
Baseball is a different animal when it comes to the importance of its players. There are nine guys who have a say in whether or not a team wins. Pinning all of the postseason hopes on a rookie who has never seen a pitch in an actual major game that matters, is doing a disservice to the rest of the players inside the clubhouse.
There are additional things that must be factored in. For as good as Bryant has been offensively, his glove needs more work.
— Squints (@bobbyford_12) March 22, 2015
Bryant’s natural position is third base. That is considered the hot corner in the majors. His fluidity in chasing down ground balls is not there just yet. The reason could be his range at third or his anticipation. Fine tuning at third base will make him a better player long term.
Having him up with the 25-man roster on opening day will place pressure on Bryant to produce immediately. What if he struggles coming out of the gate? Could it be possible that he loses some confidence?
If that happens it could cause a trickle-down effect with the team, leaving irreparable damages. Kris Bryant struggling is a possibility, yet not a guarantee. Most people in Chicago believe that his rise will carry over to the regular season, which sending him down would ruin him.
What to do with Kris Bryant is a conundrum that the Cubs will have to face once the time to announce the opening day roster comes. Bryant deserves to be there, is it the right decision to send him to the minors?