Kris Bryant's Stellar Spring Could Create Problems For Cubs
The crown jewel in the Cubs minor league organization is having an eye-popping spring training. Kris Bryant currently leads the majors in spring training home runs and has been the breakout star the Cubs dreamed about. So it should be nothing but blue skies and sunshine, right? Wrong.
Drama has been building this spring over whether or not Bryant should start the year in the minor leagues or break camp with the big club. A cut and dry situation became extremely murky when you factor in the rules regarding minor league players.
The problems begin and end with Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, which states that if a player begins the season in the minor leagues and is called up after 12 days down on the farm, the rest of the year does not count towards his service time. This means the Cubs will have Bryant under contract for an additional year before he hits free agency.
The situation gets even more convoluted when you consider the history of Bryant's agent Scott Boras, who has a tendency to push for every dollar he can find in free agency instead of signing his players to contract extensions with their existing club.
Boras went on the offensive this week, painting the Cubs as cheap, saying to Ken Rosenthal, "Cubs ownership has a choice. Are they going to present to their market that they are trying to win?"
Most of the baseball world assumes the Cubs will take advantage of this loophole and not just to save money, but to keep a star player under contract for an extra year during the prime of his career. While it does make financial sense, it makes even more baseball sense when you consider that handing out mega-deals to aging players rarely translates to World Series success. (See Anaheim Angels recent acquisitions Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.)
And when you really get down to it, the Cubs will be contending for a wild card spot this year, at best. Their young prospects showed promise last year, but still need time to develop into players the team can count on during a pennant race. They only thing more confounding than Boras' comments are pundits and fans getting hot and bothered about the decision either way. We'll leave it to manager Joe Madden to explain things for everyone involved.
"That's what agents are supposed to do. Fans are supposed to get angry. Agents are supposed to say things like that. Why that would surprise anyone would be a surprise to me."
Sorry for making a ruckus, Joe. We're new to highly touted players and smart baseball decisions on the northside of town.