Manfred “surprised” by controversy around Bryant

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The Cubs’ Kris Bryant stands in the on-deck circle during a game last week in Pittsburgh. | The Associated Press

With their 12-8 start fueled by their young talent, the Cubs have been one of baseball’s biggest stories on the field

That’s also been true off the field.

Perhaps the biggest story had to do with keeping Kris Bryant down in Iowa until April 17. Whether it was because of developmental reasons or contractual, it became a national talking point.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was “surprised by the controversy for the simple reason that this has been an issue that has been discussed and vetted at the bargaining table in multiple rounds.” He also made no mention of Bryant’s development.

“Whenever you have a seniority-based system – which is what we have in baseball and which is something the union has always been in favor of – you’re going to have lines. And when you have lines, smart people are going to manage around those lines,” Manfred said. “We’ve been open and transparent about that – it’s one of the rights clubs have. Honestly, what the Cubs are trying to do there is to maintain their ability not to be competitive on any single day, but to be competitive over a period of time.”

The Cubs hope hiring Joe Maddon will also help with that.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball cleared the Cubs after investigating whether they tampered with Maddon before hiring him to replace Rick Renteria. Manfred didn’t divulge much about that investigation.

“I’m not going to say more than what we said in the public statement,” Manfred said. “We did a very thorough investigation – I think it was probably the most thorough investigation that had ever been done of tampering in Major League Baseball and at the end of the day, there was no finding of a violation.”

Manfred was also asked about the possibility of an All-Star Game coming to Wrigley Field once the renovations were done, though the commissioner wouldn’t discuss a specific year.

“I will say this: the interest in all-star games is probably as strong as it’s ever been since I’ve been in the game the 20-something years,” Manfred said. “It’s a testament to how great that product’s become, but Chicago certainly would be a great venue for us.”

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