It’s been a forgettable year for former Cubs star Kris Bryant

(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

I was in the stands at Wrigley Field late last summer when former National League Rookie of the Year and MVP Kris Bryant made his emotional return to the Friendly Confines as a member of the San Francisco Giants.

For all the criticism he received during his time with the Chicago Cubs, there wasn’t a soul in the stands that afternoon who didn’t appreciate the role Bryant played in ending a 108-year dry spell on the North Side. The former first-rounder, who was famously featured on a billboard outside the ballpark before he’d even made his big league debut, received a placard from the famous center field scoreboard and multiple standing ovations as we, as a fanbase, attempted to close the book on one of the most exciting eras in franchise history.

At season’s end, Bryant hit free agency for the first time in his career – looking to cash in. Speculation ran rampant as to where he’d call home moving forward and, when the dust settled, the most unlikely of suitors emerged victorious in the Colorado Rockies.

Donning a massive seven-year, $182 million contract, Bryant looked to help the Rockies make some noise in a division that’s been controlled, more or less, by the powerful Dodgers for a decade. Instead, he’s hit the field in just 42 games – hardly what you’re looking for from your heralded offseason acquisition.

The frustrating part is that when he’s been in the lineup, Bryant’s been his typical self, slashing .306/.376/.475, which is good for a 126 OPS+. Again, the issue is that he’s made just 181 plate appearances – and if you’re the Rockies, you want a whole lot more than that for $28 million he’s making this year.

Cubs may have dodged a bullet in not handing Kris Bryant a long-term deal

Both Bryant and and the front office are hoping he’ll get back in the lineup before season’s end, but this is not what Colorado envisioned. After all, these types of deals are supposed to provide their value on the front end – and that’s not how things have played out to this point.

"“It’s been a weird year for me, starting all the way back in November with things shut down and then finding a team real quick, then being hurt and having twins,” Bryant told Rox Pile while the Rockies were in town last weekend. “Just a lot of life changes you know, but everybody here has been unbelievably supportive and I’ve established some really good relationships here. It’s going to help me in the future because I’m going to be here a while.”"

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Bryant will look to get healthy and back to 100 percent this winter, turning 31 in January. Even if he’s both healthy and productive, it’s hard to envision any sort of scenario where the Rockies are a serious postseason threat in 2023 – but for his sake, you’d like to see him at least make an impact for the club next year. The first go-round hasn’t gone according to plan, but there’s still time for him to change the narrative in the Mile High City.