Everything about the Kris Bryant decision makes sense


Following the unsurprising news that the Chicago Cubs had demoted super-prospect Kris Bryant to the minor leagues to start the year, the amount of backlash from around the sports world was appalling. The Cubs did nothing wrong – in fact, no one else would have done anything differently.

Yesterday’s news about the Chicago Cubs demoting Kris Bryant to the minor leagues should come as no surprise to anyone at all.

As I wrote before, by starting Bryant in the minors to begin the season for a minimum of twelve days (nine total games), the Cubs will have an additional year of control on his service time before he can hit free agency and price himself out of even Bill Gates’s price range.

As Bryant is set to become the next baseball superstar, this makes all the sense in the world. Why wouldn’t the Cubs potentially sacrifice nine games of a rookie Bryant for an extra year of him in his prime? No matter what his agent, Scott Boras, said, his demotion was inevitable.

Following the news, there seemed to be a backlash from all over. I could understand if perhaps some uninformed Cubs fans were angry about not seeing Bryant manning third base at Wrigley on Opening Night. But, some of the arguments made by others were just absurd.

David Schoenfield of ESPN said the following: “Players are expected to give it their all. Cubs management, however, is not. It is telling their players that 2021 is more important than 2015. What kind of message is that sending? … But they’ve sold their fans on this one. Kris Bryant should start the season in the majors, 2021 be damned”.

Um, what? It’s not like they are keeping Bryant in the minors the entire season. He’ll be here soon. It’s only going to be a minimum of nine games that he’s missing. Nine! Out of 162! And you’re damn right in saying that a full year of service in 2021 is more important than nine games right now.

Schoenfield, in the middle of his article, attempted to justify how important those nine games could be. He mentioned that Bryant had a potential Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 0.5 – rounded to 1. He then said, “Baseball has more parity than ever … maybe one win won’t make the difference for the 2015 Cubs. Maybe it will. The Seattle Mariners missed the playoffs by one win in 2014. The Texas Rangers lost a wild-card tiebreaker in 2013 … Every year, one win is important to at least one team”.

I see a few issues with this argument. First, this is the beginning of the season. Teams haven’t come close to hitting their strides yet – some series’ that should be won by Team A are swept by Team B, and vice versa. Also, Bryant is a rookie making his debut in cold, blistery Chicago instead of the hot desert air of Arizona. Who is to say Bryant would even be a factor to start the year? He’s human, after all.

Even if Schoenfield doesn’t actually hold these beliefs and was tabbed by ESPN to write a devil’s advocate argument that holds no water, that wasn’t even the worst reaction. What was most appalling was a statement made by the Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA).

In a series of tweets, the MLBPA put forth this statement: “Today is a bad day for baseball. We all know that if @KrisBryant_23 [Kris Bryant] were a combination of the greatest players to play our great game and perhaps he will be before it’s all said and done, the @Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both”.

Wow. First of all, Bryant isn’t even a member of the Player’s Association because he hasn’t made his Major League debut as yet. But that’s not even the kicker. My favorite part is where they say “in litigation”.

For what, exactly? For exploiting a technicality/loophole in the rules? The rules laid out in a collective bargaining agreement that YOU ARE EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR NEGOTIATING?!?! Unbelievable.

I understood when Scott Boras, while unreasonable, was saying what he was saying about the Cubs. It’s his job to present the best scenario for his client to make them the most money. Fine.

But this? The MLBPA has no argument. None whatsoever. Renegotiate a new CBA if you must, but please spare us this nonsense in the future.

The Cubs did absolutely nothing wrong – they made a smart, legal business decision that allows them to hold their best asset for even longer. Would anyone really do anything differently?

Next: Nikola Mirotic Becoming Bulls' Closer

Mar 10, 2015; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant rounds the bases after hitting a fourth inning home run against the Cleveland Indians during a spring training baseball game at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports