In what shouldn’t be a surprise to you, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has asserted that the decision on when to promote a minor league player should be left to the ball club making the decision.
That is, of course, simply Manfred supporting the teams and owners that collectively comprise the league that employs him, and it is just the latest example of everyone playing his part in the ongoing Kris Bryant Promotion Saga.
Manfred was asked about the situation, and you can read his thoughts on the subject here at the Tribune. Manfred says that the Cubs’ decision on Bryant is not any of Boras’s business, effectively telling him to butt out.
Obviously I’m of the mind that, if the Cubs don’t bring up Bryant to start the season, it’s the right organizational decision. And, I’m also leery about outside entities questioning the process of each individual team in making these kinds of prospect promotion decisions, as transparent as they may seem on the outside. But, all that said, claiming the promotion of one of his clients is none of Boras’s business probably goes a bit too far. In fact, I think it’s the very definition of Boras’s business as an agent – he’s there to advocate on behalf of his client. That’s what he’s doing. You can disagree with what he says and how he says it, but he’s representing Bryant in the process (and Bryant deserves to be represented).
In any case, Manfred’s overall position is where all teams would want him to land: individual teams are in the best positions to make these decisions and to know what’s best for the player/organization. Sometimes, there will be tension between what is best for the player and the team, but, so long as there is a colorable claim that the organization is doing what it is doing in the best interests of being competitive (in the near or long-term), I think it’s very hard to effectively challenge the team via a grievance.
The real story here is “holy crap this Bryant/Boras/Cubs thing is getting serious attention if it required the Commissioner, himself, to comment.” Well, yeah. The service time issue existed long before Kris Bryant was ready to emerge, and, with the CBA expiring after 2016, the time is right for interested parties – like Scott Boras – to ruffle some feathers in the interest of getting this topic lots and lots of attention right now. Unfortunately for the Cubs, and, to a lesser extent Bryant, the young slugger is the perfect player upon whom to renew this argument.
So, I say again: everyone is just playing his part. Scott Boras has said some things. Theo Epstein has said some things. Kris Bryant has said some things. Tony Clark has said some things. And now Rob Manfred has said some things.
I’d say that’ll be that for a while, but a roster decision will be coming soon, and, presumably Bryant being sent to minor league camp to open the year at AAA Iowa. That’ll create a new round of this stuff, and then it will pop up again when the Iowa season actually starts, and then it will pop back up again when he’s called up.