What to do with Kris Bryant?

What to do with Kris Bryant?

Kris Bryant was the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Rule 4 Amateur Draft and the top pick by the Chicago Cubs.  Kris Bryant has dreamy eyes that will thaw the coldest of souls and impregnate fans with a wink and a smile.  Kris Bryant also happens to be very good at destroying baseballs.  As a result, over the past few weeks, watching Kris Bryant send many a baseball to their deaths, we've seen the majority of fans clamoring for his promotion to the Iowa Cubs.  We even witnessed calls for Bryant to skip Triple-A completely and go directly to Wrigley Field.

As many of you know by now, Kris Bryant struggled a bit in his Arizona rookie league debut before he started ripping the cover off the ball in Boise and ultimately ending up in Daytona, helping the D-Cubs win the Florida State League championship.  This year is his age 22 season and he's currently hitting .357/.460/.722 which is reminiscent of what Barry Bonds did in the early 2000s, except obviously Bonds was at MLB and Bryant is still in the Southern League.  Still, general manager Jed Hoyer has been very patient with Bryant, suggesting that he needs more time at one level before his inevitable promotion.  My personal feeling is that he needs to work on the swing-and-miss thing (his strikeout rate is close to 30%) but now I'm just nitpicking.  The guy is really good at doing what he does best in murdering baseballs.

And now we come to the big question: when are the Cubs going to make their move?

 

Well, the 2014 draft is over and the front office should be turning their attention to actually signing their draftees and moving some of the few tradeable assets on the major league club.  This will create some roster space for internal promotions, but of course Bryant will have to compete for playing time with a pretty solid prospect in Christian Villanueva and possibly Javier Baez if the Cubs intend to try him at third base.  Alternatively, given that most everyone thinks Bryant is heading for a corner outfield spot anyway, they could start playing him more in right field and see what happens.  Bryant isn't even on the 40-man roster yet and there's no reason to logjam the roster if they're not going to call him up to the MLB Cubs more-or-less permanently.  Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva ARE on the roster though and they are more likely to get the September call-ups while Bryant waits until the post-Super Two date in 2015.  There is a possibility that the Cubs will just wait out the cutoff for the extra year of control and bring Bryant up in late-April, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

There are also financial considerations that every team employs (famously the Houston Astros have been using Tampa Bay specials to lock down prospects like Jon Singleton and Jose Altuve (they also attempted the same with George Springer)) to save costs, and until the system changes, every team is going to take advantage of the collectively bargained club control mechanisms.  Bryant is in his age-22 season and this year's Cubs aren't going anywhere.  We've also taken notice of Baez's early struggles in Iowa and he seems to have adjusted.  While Bryant doesn't seem to have had such a huge adjustment period in Tennessee, we don't know how he will adjust to opposing pitchers in the Pacific Coast League until the Cubs put him there.  Maybe it's not such a bad idea to keep him in Tennessee for a couple more weeks and see if he can at least cut down the strikeout rate a bit.  And while it is frustrating to us fans and probably to Kris Bryant himself, the Cubs are a business and businesses always look to cut costs wherever possible.  In any case, Bryant has maybe five or six more games left before he reaches the mythical 300-plate appearances threshold, and we'll see whether the Cubs make a move then, though they'll have to get creative with that logjam at third base throughout the system.

The trade season should do some shuffling to clear out some spots for Bryant to advance in the system and eventually become a permanent fixture in the Cubs lineup.  There is the caveat that prospects are just prospects and there's a chance Bryant won't be all he's cracked up to be, but for now, everything is coming up as dreamy as his eyes.  Now we wait.

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