Cubs

Kris Bryant would love if the Cubs kept him in the loop. He's just wise enough to not expect it.

Kris Bryant would love if the Cubs kept him in the loop. He's just wise enough to not expect it.

MESA, Ariz. – When Theo Epstein addressed reporters last Monday, he admitted that when it came to any sort of assurance given to Kris Bryant about his status with the club, that, “no, nothing like that’s come up.” 

That being said, Bryant isn’t entirely in the dark. He knows after an independent arbitrator ruled against him re: the grievance he filed against the Cubs back in 2015, he now won’t hit free agency until 2021. The other stuff – be it long-term extension conversations or trade rumors – is far murkier.

“I’m totally kept out of the loop on all that stuff,” Bryant said Saturday morning. “I’ve always expected to be here, and I am, and I’m very happy about it – ready to get going. Pretty cool seeing everybody in the clubhouse and really looking forward to getting going.” 

Given that he’s an integral part of the first Cubs’ core to win a World Series in over 100 years – not to mention a former MVP with a sterling reputation – is there any part of Bryant that would maybe like to be, you know, in the loop about his team’s plans? Maybe the star third baseman deserves some sort of assurance, one way or the other, after all?

“I would like one. I guess I would like to be in the loop a little bit,” Bryant said. “It’s safe to say that obviously they don’t have to keep me in the loop by any means. But I feel like I’ve earned a little respect here just by how I go about my business, and just who I am as a player and a person too. Kind of sit down and have talks like that – who knows, it might happen.”

Related: Bryant also at a loss for words about Cubs' offseason inactivity

To be clear, Bryant doesn’t want to leave. He adamantly shot down the rumor from a few years back that claimed he turned down an extension “well-north” of $200 million, chalking it up as merely the overzealous media “throwing darts at a wall to see what sticks.” The comfort and familiarity with his routine, city and teammates is a huge draw for the soon-to-be father, and even the whispers of discontent with a front office that battled him in court this offseason are overblown. 

“This is a total bargaining issue,” he said. “And it was just the team that was kind of the messenger in how it played out. That’s how I viewed it. It was never like, I hate the team, I hate this. It’s absolutely ridiculous seeing things like that, because that’s not who I am as a person. That’s not what I represent. I never hold grudges towards anybody. I don’t believe in that in my life, in general.” 

Maybe that’s the case, and maybe it isn’t. Bryant’s a respectful guy and always knew winning the grievance was an uphill battle. Knowing where he stands within the organization – especially one that’s benefited so much from Bryant both on and off the field – shouldn’t be. He didn’t speak much with Epstein in the offseason (which sort of goes against what Theo told the media on Monday but that’s for another time), but reiterated that he's always open to sitting down with the front office in order to make more headway. 

“Like I said ever since the very beginning, I’m always open to it, I’m always here to talk,” he added. “Of course you want to be here. But I don’t hold those cards, you know? I just go out there and play third base, and left field, and right field, and center field, and first base, and do what I do.”

Preparation for fatherhood couldn’t have come at a better time for Bryant, who joked that he’s been staying occupied with making sure his son will have the “the coolest shoe collection.” He also started taking guitar lessons at a local Guitar Center, an experience he jokingly insisted has motivated him into making sure his kid becomes a rock star. 

The offseason’s over now, though, and Bryant admitted things are less easy to turn out from Mesa. 

“I guess lately, as you get closer to spring, baseball mode is on, and you see more of it,” he said. “So that’s been a little difficult ... I guess there were trade rumors last offseason too, and going through that, I understand it’s part of the process as you get closer to free agency and everything’s up in the air. So I understand it, and I just really try my best to tune it out. It’s hard. It’s really hard.”

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MLB, MLBPA 'increasingly focused' on plan to start 2020 season in May — in Arizona

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USA TODAY

MLB, MLBPA 'increasingly focused' on plan to start 2020 season in May — in Arizona

The start of the MLB season has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but baseball could return sometime next month.

Late Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Major League Baseball and the Players Association are “increasingly focused” on a plan which could allow the 2020 season to start in May. 

According to Passan, the plan would entail all 30 teams playing games in the Phoenix area without fans. Potential sites include the area’s 10 spring training ballparks, as well as Chase Field — home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Players, coaches and other essential personnel would live in “relative isolation” in local hotels, only traveling to the stadium and back. Per Passan, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are supportive of a plan for MLB’s return that follows social distancing and self-isolation protocols.

The plan depends on if the country sees a significant increase in the number of available coronavirus tests, ones with quick turnaround times. Some officials believe this may make June more realistic for baseball’s return, Passan said.

The plan would necessitate the approval of the players, who would be agreeing to leave their families for upwards of four-and-a-half months. Passan said there’s hope among union and league leadership that players will be convinced to play, citing the paychecks they’d receive, and the distraction baseball could provide the nation.

With the uniqueness of the situation, the league and union have discussed a number of possible significant changes. Passan mentioned several of them:

-Expanded rosters
-An electronic strike zone — assuring umpires and catchers are sufficiently distanced from one another
-No mound visits from coaches or catchers
-Seven-inning doubleheaders, allowing the league to play as close to 162 games as possible
-Micing up players regularly, to benefit TV viewers
-Team members sitting six feet apart in the stands rather than dugouts 

If the players and league agree to a deal, teams would head to Arizona in May — assuming the necessary housing, transportation and security are in place. 

MLB, MLBPA discuss playing entire 2020 season in Arizona without fans, report says

MLB, MLBPA discuss playing entire 2020 season in Arizona without fans, report says

As Major League Baseball and the Players Association think of ways to salvage the 2020 season, one idea broached involves all 30 teams playing in Arizona.

In a Monday phone call, MLB and the union discussed every team possibly playing in empty stadiums in the Phoenix area this season, according to the Associated Press. The idea is still in its infancy and the union would want to survey its members to see if they’d be on board.

There are 10 spring training ballparks in Arizona within 50 miles of each other. An obvious concern is Arizona’s severe summertime heat, which, according to MLB super-agent Scott Boras, could be combatted by playing daily tripleheaders in the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field.

Boras also noted the number of precautions that would have to be taken to ensure the league keeps those involved, and the outside world at large, safe.

RELATED: Two Cubs employees test positive for COVID-19

“You’re going to be largely separated from your families and you’re going to have to function in a very contained way,” he told AP’s Ronald Blum. “It’s not it’s not a normal life, this idea.

“You’re going to have an identified group of people. You’re going to have a constantly tested group of people. And you’re going to have a very limited access of those people to the outside world so that you can assure a very uncontaminated league, if you will, to produce a product that is inspirational to our country.”