Cubs weigh position changes for Javier Baez and Kris Bryant
With a straight face, Jed Hoyer said it’s important to focus on what’s up here at Wrigley Field right now — a last-place team flirting with a 100-loss pace. But the Cubs general manager did make a larger point about the obsession with Triple-A/Double-A kids.
“It’s fun to look at the box scores in Iowa and Tennessee,” Hoyer said before Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the San Diego Padres. “(But) every time you switch a guy’s position, or a guy has a big night, people shouldn’t be looking or clamoring for a promotion.”
Amen. So when are Javier Baez and Kris Bryant getting here?
Expect Bryant sometime after Opening Day 2015. Baez looks like a potential September call-up.
But on a day where the Cubs designated for assignment a Gold Glove second baseman (Darwin Barney) and confirmed Arismendy Alcantara needs to play every day in the big leagues, Hoyer downplayed the significance of Baez recently moving off shortstop.
“The Baez second-base thing is really more big-picture than anything else,” Hoyer said. “We want to increase his versatility. We thought it was the right thing to do to start putting him there. ... These moves are not connected.”
After a slow start that created a panic on Twitter, the 21-year-old Baez has started to find his rhythm in the Pacific Coast League, putting up 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 89 games.
“We went into the year thinking we would move him around a bit earlier, and he struggled offensively,” Hoyer said. “We thought it was going to be the wrong time to have this guy worry about a defensive change. (So) we held off on it, and really waited until he got going offensively. We’re pretty proud of what he’s done this year. In some ways, it’s been ideal for him.
“He really built on every single month, until the last three or four weeks, when he’s been outstanding. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see that trajectory.
“In the minor leagues, you want to see guys finishing strong. You want to see them conquer that level, and his ability to fight through what was a difficult start has been really impressive.”
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Bryant hasn’t really faced that adversity yet, hitting .345 and putting up 33 homers and 84 RBIs in 97 games split between Tennessee and Iowa.
The Cubs have had internal discussions about shifting Bryant from third base to right field, but they aren’t prepared to make that move yet with last year’s No. 2 overall pick out of the University of San Diego.
“He can do it,” Hoyer said. “He played center in college, and he’s played right. He feels good out there. The biggest focus for him right now is he’s working on his defense. He is almost 6-6, and with that the fundamentals of playing third base are more challenging.
“In the future, I would never say never that we wouldn’t put him out there. But right now, our focus is third.”