CHICAGO -- By now it shouldn’t come as any surprise the Chicago Cubs aren’t necessarily ready to hand the organization’s minor league player of the year, Kris Bryant, a starting job -- at least not on April 6 when the 2015 season begins.
When general manager Jed Hoyer was asked Monday what the chances of Bryant making the opening roster were, he said, “We’ll see how the roster comes together over the course of the offseason.”
“Just like in September, the roster status will be a factor coming out of spring training,” Hoyer continued. “Sometimes you preserve depth at the beginning of the season, at end of spring. But obviously he’s going to be in spring training with us, and I’m sure it’ll be fun to look out on the field and see all those guys. But it’s way too early to speculate given we haven’t even gone through an offseason.”
That’s not exactly as succinct as saying he’s got a chance.
If the Cubs bring Bryant to Chicago right from spring training, they’ll be allowing him to become a free agent a year earlier than if they wait just a couple of weeks.
A player gets credit for a year of service time if he’s in the big leagues for 172 days during the season. A major league season lasts about 182 days. Hoyer’s reference to “roster status” is in regard to the 40-man spot that Bryant doesn’t need to occupy right now due to his relative youth as a professional.
It all potentially adds up to at least a couple of weeks in April of Bryant at Triple-A Iowa.
“The numbers he put up were outstanding,” Hoyer said. “His slumps were really minor. He didn’t tire much.”
Bryant had 43 home runs combined between Double and Triple-A while winning minor league player of the year from Baseball America and several other media outlets. The Cubs named him their minor league player of the year on Monday. (Jen-Ho Tseng of Class-A earned the club’s minor league pitcher of the year award.).
Bryant will be honored before the game against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, but that’s as close as he’ll come to playing at Wrigley Field this season.
“He had some big ups, but he managed to keep the troughs pretty short,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer confirmed Cubs president Theo Epstein's remarks made earlier this month that Bryant would remain a third baseman, but that he might get a look around the diamond.
“If we put him in the outfield, it’s to work on his versatility,” Hoyer said. “We do want to do that with different guys. It’s a valuable thing to have.”