By Bruce Levine
(CBS) — Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein confirmed once again Tuesday that minor league star third baseman Kris Bryant won’t be called up for the last 24 games of the major league season.
Epstein and the team’s front office have been transparent about the player development plan for Bryant from spring training going forward. Bryant just completed a monster year with combined numbers of 43 home runs and 110 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A. There is little doubt the 22-year-old Bryant will be named the Minor League Player of the Year.
The Cubs’ top baseball executive is proud of the young third baseman’s accomplishments since he was signed in July of 2013.
“Kris had a remarkable season,” Epstein said. “He has to be the Minor League Player of the Year in everybody’s book. I told him the other day that you did everything you could possibly do as a first-year professional to impress and make us proud. We are just as proud of the way he handled himself off the field, treating everybody with respect and class.”
Epstein held to the thinking there’s no purpose to move a first-year full-time pro player into the major leagues unless a playoff or competitive situation existed for the major league club.
“I told him we are not in the pennant race,” Epstein said. “For a first-year player, you did not miss any time and it was a long season. It is a long grind whether he realizes it or not. It is appropriate to go home and rest. Let some things soak in mentally and come back ready to go.”
The Cubs are also faced with the issue of control of Bryant’s contract and when to put him on the 40-man roster. Once he goes on the 40-man roster, his six-year free agency clock begins. Knowing that the former first-round pick’s agent Scott Boras never lets his star players sign a deal before they hit free agent status gives the Cubs pause when deciding when to promote Bryant.
“We hope it will be a seven-month season for him next year,” Epstein quipped in alluding to the Cubs chances of postseason play. “I certainly think he is close enough to set his sights on the big leagues, Whenever that time comes, we don’t know. It is getting closer and if he continues to develop, there is a chance he will spend the vast majority 2015 in the big leagues.”