Major League Baseball fans have been awaiting the Chicago Cubs decision on whether top prospect Kris Bryant would be on the big league roster on Opening Day, or back in the minor leagues. The answer came on Monday:
Enjoy Iowa, Kris.
After leading the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues with nine home runs in only 40 at-bats (with a .425 batting average to boot), many thought there was a chance Bryant would make the big league club. But Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein said all spring he didn't think the former USD All-American was ready for the big stage.
Epstein also has a thing about rookies making their debuts on Opening Day. In his 13 years as a G.M., he's never put a rookie on an Opening Day roster. Instead he'd rather have young players make their debuts in-season after spending time in the minors to find their rhythm and get comfortable before deciding the right moment to send them up to the big leagues.
But there's also a business side to it. If he broke camp with the Cubs, Bryant would be a free agent after the 2020 season. If the club pushes back his debut for 12 days, Bryant wouldn't hit the free agent market until 2021, giving Chicago seven years of control instead of six. In response to the move, the Major League Baseball Players Association threatened litigation saying Bryant is only being demoted so the Cubs can control his contract longer.
So Bryant is heading to Triple-A Iowa to bide his time. Last season he hit 43 home runs on his way to being named Minor League Player of the Year. Before that Bryant was Most Valuable Player in the Arizona Fall League. But it was at the University of San Diego where he began to make a name for himself winning the Golden Spikes award in 2013 before being drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the second overall pick.
Everywhere he goes, Kris Bryant makes a name for himself. It's only a matter of time before he's wearing the Cubs pinstripes at Wrigley Field with the hopes and dreams of Cubs fans on his shoulders.
So what do you think? Did the Cubs make the right decision by sending Bryant back to the minors? Or do you think he's ready for the big leagues? Oh, and one interesting footnote ... Bryant's 12 days in the minors would end the day before the Cubs open a series at Wrigley Field against the San Diego Padres.