Yesterday Scott Boras, shockingly, took issue with developments which are likely to cause one of his clients — Kris Bryant — to have to wait a year to become a free agent.
If one were cynical, one might say that Boras’ outrage was rooted in self-interest, not principle. But I must say, it’s kind of hard to make that leap. I mean, to do so you’d have to believe that Boras himself is the type who believes in someone using every bit of leverage they have at their disposal, that he’d never strongarm a team with whatever leverage he and his clients had and that his displeasure at the Cubs doing so with their prospect is hypocritical. And perish that thought.
Cubs president Theo Epstein is not all that interested in getting inside Scott Boras’ head anyway. In this Ken Rosenthal column he responds to Boras’ outrage with a verbal shrug:
“Kris Bryant’s development path has absolutely nothing to do with ownership, period. As with all our baseball decisions, I will determine where Kris begins the 2015 season after consulting with members of our baseball operations staff. Comments from agents, media members and anybody outside our organization will be ignored.”
If Epstein had wanted to, he could’ve added that “you know, if Scott Boras clients and other established major leaguers hadn’t agreed to a number of Collective Bargaining Agreements that boned draftees, minor leaguers, and pre-arbitration players, maybe Bryant would have a bit more leverage. But they got theirs and now he’s getting his and that’s the system you all agreed to.” But I suppose Epstein is too polite for that.
As for the merits of the thing: I think it’s kind of disheartening when a team holds a player back like this, especially when the fans are champing at the bit to see him. I hate most monetary calculations disguised as baseball decisions, generally speaking.
But that said, everything I’m reading suggests that Bryant, if he is held back, will only be held back a couple of weeks. A couple of cold weeks in Chicago when the Bleachers aren’t even done being rebuilt yet. And if having a rookie there for those couple of weeks truly make the difference between the Cubs making the playoffs or not, it suggests that perhaps the Cubs aren’t terribly strong to begin with. Because really, how many teams’ playoff chances have ever really turned on a rookie being there for 155 games as opposed to, say, 141? Maybe the Braves with Jason Heyward, which Boras noted. But I can’t really think of many more.