Despite the fact that he’s having a terrific spring (.425 batting average and nine home runs during March), Bryant was reassigned to minor league camp, and likely will play the bulk of this season with the Iowa Cubs.
CUBS MANAGEMENT HAD been forthright in saying that it didn’t matter how good a spring training Bryant had – he wasn’t going to be with the Cubs when they start the season against the St. Louis Cardinals this weekend.
It’s about the fact that major league rules allow ball clubs to have control over players for six full seasons before they can try to become free agents (which gives them the chance at the big-money contracts they dream of).
By not having their top minor league prospect on the major league team at season’s start, it will mean Bryant’s six-year countdown won’t begin until next year. From a business perspective, the ball clubs view it as essential. Heck, the Chicago White Sox routinely pull such moves so as to delay the amount of time that must pass (two seasons) before a ballplayer can be eligible for salary arbitration.
So the fact that the Major League Baseball Player’s Association is upset and is threatening legal action to force Bryant into the major leagues isn’t going to mean much.
IT’S THE CUBS putting business ahead of the on-field product. Which is something they have done for so many decades that it’s no wonder the team hasn’t won a championship of any kind since, in the words of troubadour Steve Goodman, “the year we dropped the bomb on Japan.”
But this is an era in which we have been hearing countless rhetoric about how talented the Cubs franchise is because of all the top baseball prospects the organization has. The most insufferable of Cubs fans would have you think the team is already of championship caliber.
Maybe Bryant is destined to be the star who leads the team to the championship that eluded Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa – to name just a few.
Or maybe he’s the guy who will give Des Moines baseball fans a few kicks because the (alleged) major league-level Cubs are more interested in denying Bryant a financial payday that – if he really is as good a ball player as is claimed – he will get someday.
PERHAPS FROM ANOTHER ball club that he chooses to go to after seeing the Cubs organization for the third-rate outfit they historically have been.
Which could make the big baseball story for 2015 whether or not Jose Abreu (the American League rookie of the year) is capable of having another season resembling his star-studded effort of ’14.