The trade of centerfielder Marlon Byrd appears to have very little to do with the eventual promotion of five-tool prospect Brett Jackson from the minor leagues.
Cubs management, led by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, has been steadfast in its approach of not bringing minor league prospects to the big leagues before the organization believes they are major league-ready to play every day at that level.
The fact that the team was willing to move Byrd had more to do with his contract status and Boston’s needs rather than getting Jackson a spot on the Cubs’ 25-man roster.
Give the 34-year-old Byrd credit for being a great teammate and mentor to Jackson. It was the elder statesman who took Jackson under his wing and tutored him on the nuances of the game on and off of the field this spring. When Jackson was sent to minor league camp in late March he exchanged cell numbers with the veteran and thanked Byrd for all of his help.
Byrd believes Jackson is ready to play in the major leagues from what he saw of him for six weeks this spring. Which leads us back to the fact that the Cubs will not be ready to promote Jackson until he has had a sufficient number of at-bats in Iowa.
At age 23 the rule of thumb for the young outfielder should be to get 500 at-bats at Triple A in order to round out a minor league career that started in 2009 after Jackson was the 31st player chosen in the June draft.
The Cubs want to put their best players on the field, and will not be afraid to start the arbitration and free-agent clock for Jackson, however that rule only applies when it makes good baseball sense.
Regardless of what veterans get moved, it appears the Cubs brass will stick to their guns and make sure proper player development has already taken place before moving Jackson -- or first baseman Anthony Rizzo -- into the big time.