23-year-old super prospect Kris Bryant will make his major league debut for the Cubs tonight when they open a three-game series against the Padres. Bryant will bat cleanup and play third base as he joins Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler in the best crop of young layers the Cubs have had in some time, since Mark Prior and Kerry Wood were breaking into the Bigs.
Bryant should provide some key relief to a unit that’s been a black hole in the Cubs lineup. Chicago third basemen have combined to hit .148, the worst mark in the National League. Given the woefulness of the Cubs third basemen and that Bryant has been tearing the cover off the ball in spring training and in AAA this year, it makes a lot of people wonder why he hasn’t been playing third for the Cubs all along.
After a great spring training, Kris Bryant continued his great production for Triple-A Iowa. pic.twitter.com/T8eKrUVaLi
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 17, 2015
Well it simply comes down to money, and the Cubs wanting to pay Kris Bryant as little as they can for as long as they can. Friday is day 13 of the 2015 season, and if Kris Bryant is on the 40-man roster for the remainder of the season, he will accrue 171 days, conveniently one short of the 172 needed to count as a full season against the five that are needed before a player can become a free agent. So by playing a revolving door of bad third basemen and punting any hope of getting production from that position for the first two weeks of the season, the Cubs bought themselves an extra year of Kris Bryant before they have to compete with the open market to pay him.
Baseball super agent Scott Boras represents Kris Bryant, and he spoke out about the shadiness of the decision to keep Bryant in the minors for the beginning of the year despite clearly being the best third baseman in the Cubs’ organization. The MLBPA has threatened to file suit as well. However, it is unclear where an arbitrator would rule as the Cubs acted to the letter of the law, though perhaps not in ‘good faith,’ which is also a part of labor contracts.
Another interesting issue is whether the MLBPA has jurisdiction to bring the MLB to arbitration over this issue as Kris Bryant was a third party when the grievance occurred. He becomes a member of the players’ union today since he is now part of the Cubs 40-man roster. All these issues will play out over the next few months and years, or could otherwise become moot based on what happens when the CBA expires in December 2016. However, it is only day 13 of the MLB season, and the Cubs are already making headlines for everything but playing good baseball.
Watch Bryant crush a homerun in his first appearance at a spring training game!
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