Hopefully this will button up the Kris Bryant call-up stuff for a week or two.
As you know, Bryant’s agent Scott Boras took to the media this week to blast the Chicago Cubs over the strong possibility that Bryant will not be with the team on Opening Day. It was expected, predictable, and mostly a non-story when you really drill down into the essence (the Cubs are going to do what they’re going to do, Boras is advocating for the best financial outcome for his client, the end).
Showing incredible maturity for a 23-year-old minor league player, though, Bryant openly addressed Boras’s comments and his own place on the Cubs. You can read Bryant’s comments here, here, here and here, among other places. Bryant simultaneously expressed appreciation for Boras (“Scott works for me. He does a great job. It’s nice to have a bulldog working for you rather than a poodle.”) and for Cubs ownership (“Ownership here has been great to me …. Tom [Ricketts] is great to me, everybody in the front office is great to me, and I have nothing but good things to say about them.”).
Bryant admitted that he perceives a bit of mixed message when he hears from teammates how well he’s performing, but also understanding that he may not make the team. Frankly, that’s correct. It is a mixed message, and it’s the product of a system that – together with various baseball-performance-related, and roster-related inputs – forces teams to decide whether sacrificing an entire year of prime control of a player is worth a couple extra weeks in their debut season. In the vast majority of these situations, the answer for teams is an obvious no, it’s simply not worth it. I don’t blame the Cubs for it, and I don’t blame Bryant (or Boras) for disliking it.
Bryant, for his part, seems to understand, adding that he’s a professional, and he doesn’t think any of this is going to impact his relationship with the Cubs, or the Cubs’ relationship with Boras.
Bryant’s soon-to-be manager Joe Maddon had a similar take, explaining that this is simply what agents like Boras are paid to do (CSN, ESPN, Tribune). Maddon said that Bryant is going to be a part of the Cubs’ season, and he hopes to be shaking hands with the youngster after the World Series. But it’ll take some patience (including patience with the shoulder fatigue that has kept Bryant from doing the very thing the Cubs have said he needed to do this Spring: get as many reps as possible at third base).
For now, Bryant will likely keep on mashing in Spring Training, and will likely head to minor league camp just before the season opens, all to more howls from certain corners. Bryant will play two or three or four weeks at AAA Iowa, and then he’ll likely come to Chicago. I won’t say that’s when we’ll have heard the last of all of this stuff, but obviously it will finally recede markedly.