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When will the Cubs call up Kris Bryant to join Javier Baez?

Aug 6, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

DENVER – Yes, Theo Epstein sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but that doesn’t mean the prospects are getting an E-Z Pass to the big leagues.

Who’s next? When’s Kris Bryant getting here? What about Jorge Soler? That’s what players, Cubs fans and the Chicago media wondered after Javier Baez got called up from Triple-A Iowa.

The president of baseball operations didn’t want to go there, dialing into a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon to downplay expectations for Baez, and not broadcast this as the start of something.

“It’s just a promotion of a very talented prospect who’s had an outstanding development year,” Epstein said. “I don’t believe in making grand pronouncements as an organization or making statements. I think we want the talent, and ultimately the performance of our players, to speak for themselves.

[MORE CUBS: Castro thinks Baez can make immediate impact]

“So I’m not going to get into what this means or what this signifies, other than it’s the right step for Javy’s development. And there are others behind him who – at the appropriate time – will follow.”

Insiders say Bryant won’t be called up until sometime after Opening Day 2015. The Cubs won’t want to start the free-agency clock for a Scott Boras client.

“He doesn’t need to do much more,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “But this game is a business, and everyone needs to remember that.”

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez leads tidal wave of prospects about to hit Cubs]

Bryant is a polished, mature hitter who’s generated 36 homers and 94 RBI through 114 games split between Double-A Tennessee and Iowa this season. The Cubs knew the third baseman would be on the fast track after drafting him No. 2 overall out of the University of San Diego last year and then watching him emerge as the Arizona Fall League’s MVP.

“It’s his first year in the minor leagues, and he’s done really well,” Rizzo said. “From what I’ve seen, he’s handled himself really well, so just keep getting better. You never know. You never know what can happen.”

Soler’s in a different position because he’s already on the 40-man roster with a $30 million major-league contract. The Cuban outfielder has put up a 1.078 OPS through his first 14 games at Iowa and is expected to be a September call-up.

[MORE CUBS: The future is now as Cubs call up Javier Baez]

“They bring those guys up right now, and next year we’ll have a really young team,” shortstop Starlin Castro said. “We can be together, and we can prove it, because we know we got a lot of talent. We got players that can play at this level.”

Epstein’s hope-and-change message isn’t all talk. The Cubs have two 24-year-old All-Stars in Castro and Rizzo, Arismendy Alcantara and Baez at the top of the lineup and a farm system ESPN recently ranked as the best in baseball.

“We’ll continue to add potential impact talent to our big-league club,” Epstein said. “That’s ultimately what it’s all about. We’re not here to top the standings of the prospect rankings. We want to top the National League Central standings, and ultimately have a lot of opportunity in October and a lot of success in October.

“So this is nothing but an appropriate promotion for a player who’s earned it. And we’ll see what the future brings.”

But with this collection of young talent, and the financial flexibility to go shopping for big-ticket items this winter, the Cubs can see the future isn’t that far off in the distance.

  1. Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:37 PM


    Why do MLB teams GM’s or whatever don’t let their 1st rounders play in the Majors straight after the draft?

    • delusionalcubsfan - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      Because 99% of the first rounders would be completely overmatched and it would destroy their confidence. Baseball is 90% mental and the big leagues is a totally different level of play than college ball.

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        Thats it? I understand baseball/yakyu is a mental game but this guys are not called first rounders for nothing.

        Let the GM’s or managers play them at least for 3 or 5 games in the Major league level, if they struggle give them at least 2 games to figure out there problem without being sent down. If they can’t do it or failed the task then expect a demotion to Ni-gun or the minors.

        If the guy’s raking at the minors then send him back up, then same process continues if struggles happen again.

      • baberuthslegs - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:15 PM

        Yano it is not that simple. Baseball at the Major League level is the hardest thing in professional sports. Achieving it is a gradual process… sometimes accelerated for truly superior talent, but still it takes time.

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:25 PM


        Which is why they need to take a glimpse of it, they’ll learn from experience when facing Major league hitters or pitchers, I don’t if they just value the importance of veterans that much or there is just no room for them to play in.

      • baberuthslegs - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        Yano, please see delusionalcubsfan’s response above.

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        I dont know what is to see here baberuthlegs, I believe I answered his comment already.

      • renaado - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        I believe what baberuthlegs was referrin at in cubsfan’s statement is about the players mentality and confidence of players bein crushed cause of it’s level.

        I’m goin to make an advance statement of this one just in case… First of, we don’t know what these guys are thinkin when they step up in the show, they’d be overcome by pressure easily… Not to mention the atmosphere is very different compared to the US highschool and College level.

        While yours are different, players in Japan have felt pressure before, and why? It’s because this guys have participated in the Koshien tournament in highschool where it’s very similar to the NPB level of atmosphere, not to mention huge crowds nearin the numbers of 40,000 attending it. Personality of these players were well organized by their managers always undergoin strict and hard training which makes them very disciplined and always bein encouraged to aim high and not give in to failures.

        NPB managers and MLB ones differs from each other, I think, cause most NPB managers are very patient on how they handle their players…

        An opinion of mine… If there’s a problem in it, just reply in my comment below you.

    • renaado - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Well, let’s just say the NPB and the MLB have their own different styles on how they handle things.

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      Because they’re mostly not ready. Some guys can make it to the big club pretty quickly (see Bryce Harper, Mike Trout) but even those guys need some time to season in the minors before coming up. But for the most part, even the most highly regarded prospects need some time in the minors to hone their skills enough to compete at the big league level.

      • timmmah10 - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        Harper is the poster child for why guys don’t come up early. I think he’s two years away from being a true star, even though by reputation he is a star currently. Washington will be pretty dang unstoppable offensively once he comes into his own and starts living up to that promise. Rendon and Harper a great pieces to build around while they continue competing, and their rotation is one of the best groups in the league.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        Pretty much this. Even Mike Trout was pretty average when he got his first cup of coffee in the MLB.

    • pmcenroe - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      @ Ayase You also have to take into account the roster implications. By taking a guy straight from the draft (and could only be 18 years old) and putting him on the 25-man roster in June you are not only risk losing 1 of your teams 15 MiLB players who are on the 40-man roster to waivers but also one of your MLB team’s bench/bullpen players (assuming they are out of options) to waivers. So just to get a 3-5 game look at a guy you risk your organization possibly losing two of its “better” players, but not only that once you call him up and decide you want to send him back down you are burning 1 of his 3 option years. So now that same 18 year has to become an established Major Leaguers by the time he is 21 or else now you risk losing him to waivers after you made a multi-million dollar signing bonus investment. Basically the risk/reward doesn’t make sense when the system has been setup in order for teams to avoid taking this specific risk.

      What you’re suggesting though does sound an awful lot like the bonus babies of the 1950’s

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:03 PM

        I’m not really that familiar on how options work in the MLB, about the “bonus babies” though, players can still be demoted to the minors ONLY if he struggles and failed expectations or the deadline to improve his mistakes was not accomplished at the given time.

      • pmcenroe - Aug 7, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        Well the issue with bonus babies was that it forced young players to be on the active roster for at least 2 years so if say you had signed an 18 year old 3B who could be a future star but you also have a starting 3B who is a current all-star then the young guy gets stuck on the bench rather than just sending him to the minor leagues and letting him play every day. Similar to what some other posters have mentioned above there is a HUGE jump in competition going from a say a small town high school where the other players you faced may not have been all that great and are also similar in age versus facing grown men who are the best players on the planet. There’s just no reason to force the situation earlier than necessary when so much money is involved. Also there are tons of examples of 1st round picks being busts.

        Options work as follows;
        Once a player is added to 40 man roster, he can be brought up to the major leagues or sent down to the minor leagues as many times as the team wants during a 3 year period (ie 3 option years). Example, say year 1 he gets drafted at 18 years old and you bring him directly to the majors, then after 3-5 games you send him to single A, that’s 1 option year. Then year two the player goes to spring training then gets cut and sent to AA(option year 2), then year 3 goes to spring training and gets cut again and is sent to AAA(option year 3), so now in year 4 as a 22 year old he has to make the MLB right out of spring training bc if they want to send him back to AAA he has to pass through waivers first meaning every other team could snatch him up and you could lose a 22 year old player you spent a few millions bucks on signing.
        Also again any time during those three option years they can send a player back and forth between the major and minor leagues, but once you have used that 3rd option year any time you want to send him down to the minors he will have to pass through waivers.

        Also note that because playing in the majors requires a player to be on both a team’s 25 and 40 man rosters, teams do not add players to the 40 man roster any earlier than necessary do to not wanting to waste any of those 3 options years or risk losing a player on waivers. A player who gets drafted at 18 years old doesn’t even need to be on the 40-man roster until after he has played 4-5 minor league seasons. So in using your example you can see that teams very much have an incentive to let the player take his time and develop in the minor leagues over the course of 7-8 seasons (4-5 seasons before being on the 40-man roster and 3 years on the 40 man roster using options) so teams have a choice of when they bring the guy up to the major leagues any time between his age 18-25(or 26) seasons.

    • catfoodtitans - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:29 PM

      Making the jump from high school or college is too difficult. Giant skill gap. Beyond that, and it seems to be little know, the MLB made a rule that players can’t go straight from the draft to the MLB. They have to play in the minors before they make it to the show.

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        “the MLB made a rule that players can’t go straight from the draft to the MLB.”

        I see, so that is the conflict… Guess it really is just different on how they handle then.

      • dsaverno - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:02 PM

        That’s a list of all MLB draftees that played their first professional game in the majors. It doesn’t happen very often. If there is a rule excluding draftees from going straight to MLB now, I am unaware of it.

  2. delusionalcubsfan - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Bryant being a Scott Boras client definitely is a part of this. You don’t want to waste any service time on a guy who’s clients rarely resign. But also if you listen to TheoJed’s development philosophy, they just don’t sound like the type to rush a guy to the big leagues without even a full season of minor league play. They want the guys to get their at-bats, repetitions and deal with a long schedule of ups and downs. When Javier Baez struggled and then showed he could make adjustments, they called him up. So maybe their waiting for Bryant to struggle so he can overcome it? The way Bryant has been playing, he’ll be up here next year sometime.

  3. timmmah10 - Aug 6, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Also – Think about it this way. The only thing Kris Bryant can do in the majors is hurt his current value. Top prospects can be traded for top talent. If he comes up and fizzles then trading him gets harder.

    I’m not saying they are going to trade Kris Bryant. Hell… why would they? He’s a piece any rebuilding team would covet, and the Cubs are clearly rebuilding. But why burn a year of service time for a guy that can only hurt his stock?

  4. rickrenteria - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    I never understand why fans pretend to care about some minor leaguers potential free agency years down the road. Leave the to the front office to worry about. If the player is halfway decent, he’ll have his big contract way before that FA year rolls around. If he doesn’t have a big deal by then, he’s gone anyway.

    Fans should demand the best players in the organization are on the field in the big leagues. Kris Bryant should be on the MLB roster today, not after 6/1 in 2015.

    • Wesley Clark - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      The problem with the line of thinking is that Bryant’s agent, Boras, has always advised his clients to head to the market and not sign an extension. Why risk team control for a potential great year down the road for 2 meaningless months in 2014?

      • rickrenteria - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:20 PM

        Why do fans pretend to care about “team control”? And, if he’s as good as people, including me, expect him to be, the Cubs will have plenty of “team control” once they sign him to a giant contract in 2 years, like they did Castro and Rizzo. The obnoxious term “team control” has really fooled internet commenters and sports talk-radio callers into thinking they ‘know’ more than the average fan. And, those two “meaningless months ” to which you refer can be used to get him used to major league pitching (like in the last hundred years), but instead they throw away 2015 as well, having fooled enough fans into pretending to care about Bryant’s imaginary contract status.

      • okobojicat - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:02 PM

        Fans don’t pretend to care about team control, they honestly do. I’m a huge Cubs fan and I completely understand why leaving Bryant down for the rest of this year makes sense.
        1. It is unlikely that Bryant will sign a contract comparable to Rizzo and Castro as he is a Boras client, who simply don’t do that.
        2. Extending his team control another year means you get Bryant’s peak years (age 26/27/28) for at a cost controlled rate (Arbitration years 5 & 6) rather than having to replace his production in the free agent market

        Keeping the player down an extra 60 days is all about saving money in the year 2018 so that Bryant is cheaper and so that they can use that saved money to sign a top flight pitcher or outfielder. The best teams have young talented players that are cost controlled who’s value far exceeds their contract and also have some free agents to fill in around them. The cubs are attempting to extend the length of time they have those cost controlled young stars.

        Team control is not some obnoxious term, it is a way for teams to control their costs and thus use their salary budgets better.

        The 120 at bats he would receive at the major league level this year vs. at AAA are inconsequential in his long term development. In fact, you can argue that leaving him at AAA will be better for his development. Bryant is striking out at a greater than 30% rate; there are no successful major league players who do that. Working on reducing his K rate while also having success is much easier than what happened with Mike Olt who it looked like all the changes he was making were only making him more miserable.

      • Wesley Clark - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        Let me make it a bit clearer for you: His agent is Scott Boras. Scott Boras advises ALL of his clients to test free agency. Therefore, the imaginary contract that you have him signing with the Cubs in two years does not exist. There is fantasy and there is real life. In real life, if you call Bryant up for two rather meaningless months in 2014 you do in fact lose Bryant a year earlier to free agency, where there is no guarantee that he will resign with the Cubs. There is no reason to start his service clock early.

      • rickrenteria - Aug 6, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        @okobojicat – Of course fans pretend to care about the obnoxious term “club control”…unless you were complaining about it during the Jim Hendry era? Were you? Of course not because you just learned about it a couple years ago, yet now you profess it as gospel. Why do YOU pretend to care about the team’s 2018 salary? What can YOUR pretend worry do about it? Answer: Nothing. You probably call into Boers and Bernstein with all your fake knowledge. And, Mike Olt was showcased only to trade, he has no future with the Cubs, same as Arismendy Alcantara is now.

        @Wesley Clark – Boras DOES NOT advise “all” of his clients to test free agency. Period. Another fake worry that a fan cannot control and is only expressed to make you sound as if you know what you’re talking about.

        Boy, does Epstein have you guys fooled.

      • wjarvis - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:12 PM

        First Boras does ADVISE players to go to free agency, but will negotiate an extension prior to free agency if a player wants to. I am sure Cubs will offer Bryant a contract extension pretty early on, but I doubt he will accept it unless it’s for a ton of money.

        I don’t really care how much Bryant makes or what the payroll is, but the Cubs front office does, which makes it important. It’s very unlikely the Cubs would challenge for a playoff spot next year, even if Bryant is amazing from day 1 next year. However, in the last years that Bryant is under team control, I do expect the Cubs to be challenging for a playoff spot and hopefully for a championship. So to me, the guarantee of team control over Bryant when the Cubs should be good far outweighs the marginal increase in a chance for a playoff birth next season.

      • Wesley Clark - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:14 PM

        @rickrenteria – Service time concerns are not imaginary and have been spelled out for you earlier in this thread. I realize that there is nothing that I, as a fan, can do about it. That doesn’t mean that I just ignore it and pretend like it isn’t a real thing. There are legitimate reasons that the Cubs will not be calling Bryant up until 2015. But whatever, you seem like a really smart guy and have it all figured out.

  5. catfoodtitans - Aug 6, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Baez really needs to cut down on all that movement. He’s having success, but when he faces a pitcher throwing in the high 90s and above, how is he going to catch up?

  6. edelmanfanclub - Aug 6, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    They won’t call up Bryant but they Let Olt hit .139 for a ridiculous amount of time? Is that correct .139?

  7. tfilarski - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:40 PM

    late april 2015. expect joger soler instead!! not a bad consolation prize for us cubs fans

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