Chicago Cubs: The world keeps spinning around leadoff man Kris Bryant
Last week, the Chicago Cubs were surely going to trade Kris Bryant. Now, he’s their leadoff man and a critical part of the path back to winning ways.
What an offseason. Post-2016 there are a lot of Chicago Cubs fans whose opinions lean in varying ways, depending on which way the wind was blowing. As recently as last week, folks were clamoring over trade rumors, saying Kris Bryant was overrated, overpaid and soft. Now, he’s our new leadoff hitter and all is right and well with the world.
We’ve already covered Bryant’s new role. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the move. Turning back to one of my personal favorite baseball movies Moneyball – “He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit? I do not.”
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
Throughout his entire career, the one thing Bryant has always been good at is getting on base. Thus, having the guy who gets on base more than anyone else on the roster – including Anthony Rizzo set the table seems to make an awful lot of sense to me.
Most of the winter seemed to focus on Bryant. Would the Cubs trade him? What would the outcome be on his service time grievance? On and on, we talked about the former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP as the holidays came and went until finally we got some answers.
With his service time grievance settled, our attention shifted to the more glaring question: would the Cubs trade him? Well, clearly not. They insisted on an astronomical return in any such talks (and rightfully so) – and headed into camp with Bryant still in tow. He met with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein this week to clear the air and discuss his future with the club.
"“Everything went great,” he told MLB.com. “It was the best meeting I’ve had with a superior. It was really good. … The conversation I had was all that I needed for the questions that were asked in the press conference.”"
Now that by no means indicates a Bryant extension is forthcoming. But, for now, he can serve as a badly-needed answer to a leadoff question that’s lingered since Dexter Fowler left town after helping Chicago win a World Series in 2016.
First-year manager David Ross plans on attacking opponents with a powerful one-two punch of Bryant and Rizzo. There are no two hitters on this roster more capable and skilled when it comes to working counts and making pitchers work. Combined, they get on base at around a .380 clip.
Slotting in the likes of Javier Baez, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber gives the Cubs one of the deepest one-through-five’s in all of baseball. The real question is what happens from there. Ian Happ figures to split time with Albert Almora in center field. Jason Heyward and Steven Souza could share duties in right field and second base seems totally up in the air as of yet.
If Ross can figure out how to mix-and-match (and not play Heyward against southpaws), this lineup has a lot of potential. The good news is that he’s already put his club in a better position to succeed than his predecessor did in his final season at the helm. That’s a start.