Whether or not Kris Bryant will be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster has been a hot topic, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday that no decision has been made regarding the team’s top prospect.
What should be noted is that in his career, Epstein has never had a player make his Major League debut on Opening Day, other than a Rule 5 pick or a Japanese player. While most of the focus has been on Bryant’s call-up being linked to the start of the service time clock, Epstein said this is not a business decision.
“It’s for baseball reasons, and it hasn’t been about anything else besides baseball reasons,” Epstein said Friday. “We spend a lot of time thinking about which players to draft, how to get them off to a good start in their professional careers, how to help them advance in the Minor Leagues, and how to help them make that final leap to the big leagues and when and how to do it to put them in a position to succeed.”
Bryant has been the center of attention because of his Major League-leading nine home runs and .406 batting average, and because his agent, Scott Boras, has been outspoken about how the third baseman is being treated.
“It’s not about business,” Epstein said. “People are trying to make this about business. There are valid baseball reasons. The process of developing a player, taking them from amateur to Major League player and every step along the way, that’s a baseball process and those are baseball decisions, and that’s what we’re doing here.”
What Epstein is looking for is the right moment. Last year, the Cubs promoted Javier Baez and Jorge Soler to the big leagues, and both moves came when the team was on the road in hitter friendly ballparks.
“We haven’t made a decision yet,” Epstein said regarding Bryant. “We’re going to make a good baseball decision based on what we think is best for his development and what’s best for the team and the organization and other players affected. We haven’t made the decision yet.
“I look to things that have worked in the past for me as sort of a presumptive guideline for what to do in the future,” Epstein said. “I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I do think if you stack it up and look at some of the young players, it’s a pretty good track record. We haven’t made a decision. Whatever we decide on this one, it might be wrong, I’m not saying I’m right all the time, but it’s my professional judgement.”
— Carrie Muskat