by LIAM BEATUS
The second rated prospect on MLB.com was sent to the minor leagues by the Cubs along with two other big prospects. Cubs fans excited for Opening Day have a right to be pissed off.
Kris Bryant, the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, was expected to make his big league debut on Opening Day this year after an incredible spring training. In 40 at-bats, Bryant hit nine home runs and posted a .425 batting average. In nearly a quarter of his at-bats, Bryant hit a home run in nearly 25 percent of his total at-bats, a stat that would have made Babe Ruth proud. He had 17 total hits and 12 of them were extra base hits, a statistical anomaly. Not only did he have a great spring training, but the third baseman lead the minor leagues in home runs, extra-base hits, total bases, slugging percentage, and OPS while flying through the minor league system reaching Triple-A ball in his first professional season.
The 23-year-old Bryant has generated a media firestorm with his performance, and he can’t even rent a car yet.
Without a prominent third baseman, the Cubs choice of sending Bryant to the big leagues would seem obvious to the average fan. However, Theo Epstein, President of the Chicago Cubs since 2011, has made it clear the first few weeks of baseball of this season are worth sacrificing. Spending a couple weeks losing in the beginning of the 162-game season could pay the Cubs an extra year.
Through the current collective bargaining agreement set in place by the MLB, as soon as a player makes his MLB debut, he has six years of playing before he becomes a free agent. Therefore if he started the season on Tuesday, April 7th, the Cubs opening game, he would become a free agent after the 2020 season. The Cubs plan on holding Bryant back for a few weeks to avoid this clause to keep him under contract through 2021.
Teams love to jack up their ticket prices for the first couple games of the season, especially on Opening Day because there is a high demand for baseball fans to see their new teams. The Cubs spent the offseason revamping the team, trying to breathe new life into a franchise that hasn’t appeared in the World Series since 1946.
Cubs fans are excited to see their new ace John Lester and new manager Joe Maddon. Lester, one of the leagues top left-handed pitchers, signed a 6-year deal worth $155 million. Unfortunately, the Cubs are not putting their best product on the field and should give fans a rebate who are season ticket holders and all fans in attendance for the first few weeks of the season.
In addition to Bryant, the Cubs sent middle infielders Javier Baez and Addison Russell to Triple A as well. Russell has yet to make his MLB debut and is ranked number 5 among all prospects by MLB.com. Russell might be waiting longer than Baez and Bryant because he is a natural shortstop and the Cubs have Starlin Castro signed to a seven year extension through 2019. Baez started in 27 games last year and belted nine home runs in his short tenure.
The Cubs long term future seems very bright, however expect them to struggle with so many new additions to their team from 2014-2015, and their best prospects in the farm system.