MESA, Ariz. — Echoing anger he expressed to the Sun-Times last September, Kris Bryant’s agent was irate Tuesday that his client would likely open the season in Class AAA. Doing so, even for a few weeks, would give the Cubs an extra year of control over their elite third-base prospect.
“You are damaging the ethics and brand of Major League Baseball,” Scott Boras told USA Today. “Kris Bryant has extraordinary skills. Kris Bryant is a superstar. He has distinguished himself from all players at every level he’s played. …
“This isn’t a system choice. This isn’t a mandate. This is a flat ownership decision. Do they really want to win here?”
Referencing the difference between six and seven years of team control, the super-agent said that the “Cubs haven’t had a pennant since 1945, so why worry about something six years from now?”
An agent lobbying for his client is hardly a surprise, particularly given the financial benefits of Bryant reaching free agency a year early. Whether Boras’ comments are reflective of any rift between Bryant’s camp and the Cubs — or could lead to one in the future — is the greater concern.
Boras said Bryant should have been called up last September — something he told the Sun-Times at the time.
“If this is a performance-driven industry as it should be, Bryant deserves the call-up, based on performance,” he said then. “What’s best for the player, what’s best for the team in 2015? The goal here is trying to make the team the best it can be in 2015. And what can you do to ready him for that?”
Cubs president Theo Epstein told USA Today that the call would be a baseball decision, not a financial one, and would be made by he and the organization.
Bryant spoke Tuesday hours before his agent’s comments, saying that his goal was to return to third base Thursday after fighting a fatigued right throwing shoulder. He said he “made some really good progress” in the past few days and did not need any injections.
“Usually when I start throwing again, I get a little bit of soreness,” he said. “In the past I kind of threw through it and it went away. I think this is kind of the same situation.
“I noticed when it started to get sore, I started to cut the ball instead of my normal tail to it. Just changing the arm angle is not good for you. I’m really just focusing on repeating the motion, just like a pitcher would.”
Manager Joe Maddon said Monday that Bryant was supposed to DH the next day, but admitted Tuesday that he had simply misspoke. Bryant got the day off.