Here we go, folks: The Kris Bryant era is upon us.
The Chicago Cubs are set to promote their uber prospect to the big leagues Friday, according to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. The Cubs are playing the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field on Friday, and Bryant is expected to join the team as its starting third baseman, taking over for Mike Olt, who reportedly is going on the disabled list.
Bryant is the unanimous top prospect in baseball, a former No. 2 overall pick who led the minors in home runs last season and led all of baseball in spring-training homers. He’s a big bat with big potential whose arrival is supposed to signal a new era in Cubs baseball.
This move hasn’t come without strife. If you’re new to the Kris Bryant-and-the-Cubs saga, here’s the boiled down version: The team could delay Bryant’s free agency by a year (and potentially save millions of dollars) if he started the season in the minors. So the Cubs made the prudent call and sent him to Triple-A. Scott Boras, Bryant’s agent, got into a war of words with the Cubs’ front office, who insisted they were doing what was right for the organization. The player’s union objected to the Cubs’ decision too.
The upshot in this service-time game: The Cubs just needed to wait until April 17 to promote him. What’s Friday’s date? Why, April 17, of course.
The Cubs choosing to bring up Bryant isn’t a shocker, the question was whether they’d do it at the first chance they could after bending the service-time rules in their favor or whether they’d wait a couple days for the sake of appearances.
His play on field says there’s need to wait for Bryant, who had already been tearing up Triple-A pitching. He’s hit three homers and knocked in 10 runs in seven games, collecting nine hits along the way. Bryant hit a three-run homer in his final Triple-A game Thursday. The joke in baseball circles had been that the Cubs needed Bryant in Triple-A to work on his defense. The new joke is that a week and a half in the minors must have really helped.
One thing everybody will agree on: It’s nice that the fighting is over and the Kris Bryant era is here. You can bet people won’t care as much about the first grounder that comes Bryant’s way as they will about his first big-league at-bat.
Now comes the next question: How can Bryant possibly live up to expectations?
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