It’s “spring” (even though it’s so cold outside we could start using the Kelvin scale without scoffing) and that means we’ve got our latest rounds of Kris Bryant pontification:
What are Bryant’s chances of making #Cubs on Opening Day? Theo: “Anyone in camp can make the team”
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 19, 2015
So what does this mean? Well, we had this ready since LAST OCTOBER to determine when the Chicago Cubs could reasonably call up Bryant, their consensus top prospect (and arguably the top prospect in all of baseball), without sacrificing an extra year of club control.
If we again take a look at the calendar, and we assume that the Cubs aren’t going to cause Bryant tons of jet-lag by making him fly to Wrigley for one or two games in the weekend series against the Padres before heading on a road trip, then the likely first day of Kris Bryant baseball obliteration is on April 20th, the series opener in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. The series after that is against Cincinnati, which is also where Starlin Castro made his memorable debut a few years back.
Of course, Luis Valbuena had been traded in the interim, which means that third base will have to be manned by a combination of Tommy La Stella (assuming he can play third base) and Mike Olt (assuming he adjusted well enough to not strike out at embarrassingly high rates anymore). But you can be reasonably sure that the 2015 Cubs as currently constructed should be at least able to tread water for the three weeks it takes to secure year seven of Bryant control.
Wish Theo could just come out & say “Listen you ignorant slobs, Bryant will be down for 3 weeks so we can get the extra year. Deal with it” — Tommy Meyers (@TommyM44) February 19, 2015
Baseball is a business, after all. Kris Bryant can probably OPS 5.000 this spring and they’ll still find something for him to “work on” in Iowa for a few weeks. Because once they put Bryant on the 40-man roster, it’s very unlikely he’ll lose that spot or be optioned based on the things he has shown he can do. Theo Epstein and the Cubs know that Bryant has no control over this decision (and whether that’s “right” or not is another story altogether) and have no real incentive to make the call unless there is some indication out there that Bryant will be worth something like ten wins during that three-week span if he does make the team out of spring training. Since there’s no way that can be guaranteed, and in any case it is unlikely, folks in Iowa will get to see one last hurrah from Bryant. Waiting those few weeks won’t kill us.