The Cubs assign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell to the minors, option Javier Baez as well

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We figured this was coming, and here it is: the Chicago Cubs have announced that the have sent Kris Bryant to minor league camp. Shortstop prospect Addison Russell joins him. Also, in a moderate surprise, second baseman Javier Baez, who was on the 40-man roster and had 229 major league plate appearances last season, was optioned to Triple-A.

Bryant’s case has been much discussed. Though he destroyed minor league pitching last year and has hit nine home runs in 44 plate appearances this spring, the Cubs gain a huge financial advantage by keeping him in the minors to start the season, thereby keeping his service time clock from starting to tick. It seems likely that Bryant will, after a couple of weeks, make his major league debut.

Baez is a bit more of a surprise, as many assumed he would be the Cubs starting second baseman to start the season. He has, however, shown horrendous plate discipline so far in his career and has looked particularly lost this spring, striking out 20 times in 16 games and showing no suggestion that he has a plan when he comes up to the plate other than “swing hard and hope I make contact.”

Russell, a highly-regarded prospect who came to Chicago in the Jeff Samardzija trade last summer, has hit well this spring but doesn’t yet have a clear position with the big club given the presence of Starlin Castro. And he has barely played above Double-A yet.

All three of these guys figure in the future of the Chicago Cubs. But that future is not here just yet.

Max Fried loses to Braves in salary arbitration

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitcher Max Fried lost to the Atlanta Braves in salary arbitration and will make $13.5 million in the upcoming season instead of his $15 million request.

Mark Burstein, Fredric Horowitz and Jeanne Vonhof issued their decision a day after hearing arguments.

Fried won a $6.85 million salary last year in arbitration instead of the team’s $6.6 million proposal.

He followed former Atlanta teammate Dansby Swanson in going to a hearing in consecutive years. Swanson, a shortstop, lost in 2021 and won last year, then signed a seven-year, $177 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.

The last player to win hearings in consecutive years was pitcher Trevor Bauer against Cleveland in 2018 and 2019.

Fried, a 29-year-old left-hander, went 14-7 for the second straight season and lowered his ERA to 2.48 from 3.04 in 2021. Fried was a first-time All-Star last season, was second to Miami’s Sandy Alcantara in Cy Young Award voting and was third in the National League in ERA behind Alcantara and Julio Urias with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2021, Fried pitched six shutout innings in World Series Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995.