Kris Bryant got the call. We all knew it was going to happen like this as soon as the Cubs failed to add him to the 40-man roster last summer. There was no logical way for the Cubs to call up Bryant any sooner without a contract extension and Scott Boras isn't exactly the kind of agent who lets his clients sign super team-friendly deals before taking a major league at bat. Especially players who got massive signing bonuses and are already financially secure for life. It was always going to happen like this.
So why do we care so much about the most easily telegraphed baseball moment of the last decade? That's a good question.
A few weeks ago, Baseball Prospectus had Clayton Kershaw day at their site and unveiled like eighty posts about the left-handed ace that covered his game from every angle. It was amazing and as the editor of a competitor, I was pretty jealous that we didn't think of the idea first. In fact, a former BtBS writer, Jeff Long, pitched the idea at BP, pouring even more salt in the wound.
The idea of attacking the same story from many angles appealed to our staff and we wanted to emulate it. Doing the same thing about Mike Trout felt like cheating (and also like a normal Tuesday), so we started to wonder how we could get in on the action.
Enter Kris Bryant. A single story that's fascinating from so many angles. So a hat tip to BP and a big thank you to our writers who ran with the idea when we pitched it. If you look around the site today, you'll see stories about the morality of the service time issue, his projections, his height, and his potential downfall. We hope you enjoy.
But it's worth taking a second to sit back and really consider why we care so much about Kris Bryant. Why is this prospect, at this moment, so interesting?
I think there are three key components. First, Kris Bryant is the Cubs savior. I know that's melodramatic, but this is especially interesting because it's the Cubs. A century of losing is meeting a franchise player as the whole organization is on the rise.
Second, Bryant is the center of gravity around which a lot of labor-moral-philosophical questions revolve. You're dealing with the letter of the law-spirit of the rule issue with the service time manipulation and labor versus management. But you're also looking right into the heart of the MLBPA's (and all unions') flaw, which is that they sacrifice the earnings of the youthful members for the betterment of the seniors. And beyond that, this is really a great example of the present versus future value question that so many debate.
Finally, Kris Bryant is the first post-Trout prospect. Obviously, I don't mean that literally, but he's the first prospect to arrive in the show since Mike Trout changed everything forever. Trout extended the boundaries of what we thought was possible, and now every single top prospect has to carry that load. Bryant is the first guy to show up who actually has the ability to resemble Trout's impact. He's not a 10 win player, but he could really be a superstar.