Many obligatory caveats up front: (1) We’ll wait for more context on what Jed Hoyer said, and to what exactly he was responding; (2) strictly-speaking, this is not new information; and (3) the word “possible” means everything and nothing.
That said, this is certainly interesting enough to discuss this evening as we await tonight’s first pitch. Here’s the gist, from Bruce Levine and Mark Gonzales:
Cub GM Jed Hoyer said it is possible that Kris Bryant will be asked to play other positions going forward .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) September 15, 2014
Hoyer said Bryant will report to spring training at third base but could work in OF.
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) September 15, 2014
In a very general sense, the Cubs have mentioned the possibility that Bryant could play in the outfield before. He played there some in college, and many scouts believe Bryant’s long-term home is a corner outfield spot, given (in part) his size.
As for the specifics of Bryant possibly playing some outfield as soon as this coming Spring Training? That’s fairly notable, given that the Cubs haven’t played Bryant in the outfield yet, and given that Bryant is obviously right on the cusp of playing in the big leagues. You don’t plan, at this point, on having a look at Bryant in the outfield in the Spring unless you already know that there’s a chance he could be a big league corner outfielder as soon as next year.
That isn’t altogether surprising when you consider the presence of Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell as near-term SS/2B/3B guys, as well as Luis Valbuena and Mike Olt.* Which is not to say those guys would ever block Kris Bryant – it’s just a consideration when you’re trying to get the best possible mix on the field at the same time. With a really weak crop of outfielders out there for the Cubs to try and add externally for 2015, there is yet another reason for a “fit” here.
All that said: keeping guys as versatile as possible is always a good thing. You never know for sure what the needs will be in 6 or 12 or 18 months. And playing some games in the outfield in Spring Training does not a conversion make. But it ever-so-slightly hints in that direction.
And, hey, ye of a cynical mind: how long do you think a guy would need to play a position in the minors before being ready to come up to the bigs? Say, three weeks or so?
*(Almost certainly unrelated, but worth pointing out: while the positional market is very thin this offseason, the one position that is reasonably well stocked? Third base. Short-term veteran signing to add to the mix, without blocking Bryant … but even if it did, Bryant could head to the outfield? Query then what happens with Luis Valbuena, but maybe he becomes a top reserve? As I said, this is a stretch, but worth mentioning.)