As expected, the “Kris Bryant must start in the big leagues, Cubs are cheap” stuff is everywhere you look now that Bryant is killing it in Spring Training. I don’t really want to get into it too much today, because it’s just so very tired at this point, but I do want to re-share what I wrote back in October about this issue – because it wasn’t hard to anticipate even back then that this is what Spring Training would look like.
So, if you missed it last year, here’s a comprehensive take on the service time issues and Kris Bryant. Do not argue about any of this stuff and do not offer any hot takes until and unless you completely understand the actual rules at play.
In short, if Bryant is in the minor leagues for at least the first 12 days of the season – the Cubs play just 9 games during that stretch – then the Cubs get an entire additional year of control of Bryant before he reaches free agency. It’s an unkind system to young superstars like Bryant, but it’s the system to which the (MLB) players agreed, and it’s the system by which all teams play.
If you absolutely must read anything more about this subject right now, let me suggest only three additional articles:
- Among the many, many takes on whether the Cubs should start the season with Bryant in the bigs, Buster Olney’s was probably the best, and the simplest: should a team trade an entire year of control for two or three weeks of a player in April? The answer is of course not, and everything else follows from there, whatever you might think of the rules.
- Jon Heyman’s take was interesting, and different from what you might expect. He goes into a range of issues, but, on the service time question, his conclusion is that the Cubs don’t play service time games – so, the implications is that if Bryant is at Iowa to start the season, it’s for baseball reasons. Obviously that’s what the Cubs’ front office will emphasize throughout this process, but seeing a writer take that position at the end of a long dig into the issues is surprising.
- Bruce Miles offers his thoughts, and draws a parallel to Kerry Wood in 1998 – another star rookie who didn’t debut until a couple weeks into the season. (Luis wrote more about that parallel this weekend, as well.) The Cubs are going to do what they’re going to do, and you never know what might happen between now and 2021. It’s likely, though, by the time we get anywhere close to that, Miles says, folks will barely remember this entire discussion.