The Chicago Cubs recently demoted their top prospect, Kris Bryant, to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, despite Bryant having arguably the best spring training of any player on their roster. With the Cubs set to open the season on Sunday evening against their arch-rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, Adidas is making sure that Bryant’s presence is still felt at Wrigley Field.
In what CSN-Chicago is reporting as trolling, Adidas recently purchased a billboard directly across the street from the Wrigley Field marquee, and they have plastered Bryant’s likeness across it with the phrase “worth the wait.”
Whether this is actually a swipe at the Cubs’ front office, or simply Adidas acknowledging that they have one of the best young players in the game signed to an endorsement deal, is in the eye of the beholder. However, it can’t be denied that the decision to send Bryant down after such a dominant spring has been controversial in Chicago and around the baseball landscape.
Kris Bryant certainly looked the part of superstar of the future during spring training, batting.425 and smashing nine home runs. Keep in mind that those nine home runs came in just 40 at-bats, which was good enough to lead the major leagues during spring training. So why is the budding Cubs star, who was recently ranked the top prospect in all of baseball, not on the roster for opening night?
Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, says that the Bryant decision is strictly baseball related. He recently told ESPN that he has never had a player make his major league debut on the first night of a season.
“I’ve never put a guy on an Opening Day roster who hadn’t played in the big leagues previously. In 13 years, I’ve never done it. I’m not saying I’d never do it, but the general rule, the presumption, is to allow those guys to go out, play, get comfortable, get in rhythm, and come up when you handpick just the right moment for them to have success.”
However, the business side of the game almost certainly played a part in the Kris Bryant situation. If Bryant spends 12 days in the minors to start out the 2015 season, he won’t become a free agent until 2021 due to MLB’s service time rules. If the Cubs had decided to keep Bryant on the roster for opening night rather than sending him down to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, he would have been set to become a free agent in 2020. From the Cubs perspective, 12 days in the minors gives them an extra year of Kris Bryant, in his prime, on his current contract. It’s a no brainer.
It was widely assumed all spring that Bryant would be sent down to Triple-A, but that didn’t prevent Adidas from promoting their young client’s cause on their Twitter page.
As far as Kris Bryant himself goes, he recently told the media that he was disappointed by the decision, but Bryant says he is also using it as extra motivation.
“I’m excited to see what comes out of me with this motivation. I’ve never been in this situation before. Maybe my game will go to another level.”
[Image via GoLeatherheads.com]