Patrick Mooney’s latest at The Athletic makes for an interesting perspective on Kris Bryant’s arrival in Colorado (and departure from the Cubs) in any case, but there is a particular section that I found particularly interesting. Not earth-shattering or anything. I don’t want to make it more than it is. I just found it interesting.
Feeling wanted and settled with a new seven-year, $182 million contract, Kris Bryant explains the only thing he would do over in Chicago and what led him to sign with the Rockies. https://t.co/tdbFx0u04r
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) March 25, 2022
When you think about the owners around baseball who could and would personally lead to a player wanting to sign with a team long-term, I have to think that Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort would be near the bottom of the list, based on various stories over the years, overall organizational disfunction, and the fact that the last guy who signed a monster long-term deal wanted out almost immediately (Nolan Arenado).
But, according to Bryant, Monfort was a positive factor in why he signed:
“Just the fact that they’re putting a big investment in me — and an owner who’s willing to spend money in a division that’s super-competitive — says a lot,” Bryant said, referencing the contract extensions the Rockies have finalized with third baseman Ryan McMahon (six years, $70 million) and pitcher Antonio Senzatela (five years, $50.5 million) since the end of last season.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort served as the chairman of Major League Baseball’s labor policy committee during the 99-day lockout. Bryant raised his hands and used air quotes: “That says a lot about a team that in quotations ‘shouldn’t compete’ in this division. The guy wants to win. In just talking with Dick, he’s a really personable guy. He’s just a baseball nut. He wants to be at the field all day. He’s in the cage watching us take BP. I never got to experience that before. This is actually pretty cool to see an owner who really is invested.”
Bryant instantly realized how that sounded and clarified before the follow-up question could be asked: “That’s not a dig at anybody. Please (don’t misinterpret that). That’s not what I mean. Mr. Ricketts and them are awesome. Tom did the same thing, but he just did it in a different way. You could tell he’s invested in that he would show up at the games and interact with fans. I thought that was very cool. Dick here, he wants to get in the cage with us and basically take batting practice. The guy wants to win, and it’s apparent to me that he’s willing to invest in the team.”
Keep in mind, this is the owner and organization that just agreed to pay Bryant $182 million over the next seven years, so of course Bryant is going to say nice things! But it’s just jarring to see this particular perspective on the Rockies organization, standing in such stark contrast to the way the organization has operated the last decade or so.
It’s funny how Bryant immediately knew that the seeming contrast he’d set up might make for headlines and I think he clarified in a thoughtful, believable way. He wasn’t taking a shot at the Cubs or their ownership – just noting an obvious difference. Tom Ricketts’ philosophy has always been that the baseball side handles the baseball decisions, and while that doesn’t mean he can’t be with and around and enjoy the players, it does mean that he isn’t typically going to get involved at an on-field level (usually? that’s exactly what you want from an owner … so long as it comes with an aggressive approach to spending).
The odd thing, though, is that something Bryant sees as a plus – Monfort’s deep involvement in baseball operations – has often led to challenges for the Rockies. Not only was there the Arenado situation, but there were also trade discussions with the Cubs about a Bryant/Arenado swap in which Monfort was personally involved (those talks obviously did not lead to a deal). And there was the exit of former star Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, a situation that arguably started the cascade of stories about Monfort’s involvement in baseball operations and the organizational disfunction that has followed.
Maybe it will work out this time, and Bryant will enjoy seven happy and competitive years in Colorado. I certainly wish him nothing less. Maybe the Rockies will shock everyone and be really good this year and in the years ahead, and ownership will spend lavishly to support that effort.