The Rundown: Kris Bryant to Play OF This Spring, Red Sox Sign Moncada, Tampering Charges to Be Resolved By Opening Day
Throughout Kris Bryant’s brief career in the Cubs system, many have wondered whether he would stick at third base. His big frame may be better served in the outfield long term, but so far the Cubs have maintained that Bryant would play third.
That likely will change this spring, as manager Joe Maddon on Monday brought up the possibility of Bryant playing some outfield, writes Bruce Levine.
It’ll be interesting to see how much work he gets out there this spring and whether he continues to play the outfield for the first few weeks of the season in Triple-A.
My guess is that the outfield will be more of an occasional thing for now, and that the Cubs will give him his main chance at third. An injury to, say, Jorge Soler (who has been hurt-prone in his young career) could change things, however.
Enter Mike Olt
Playing time in the outfield for Bryant could mean more of an opportunity for Mike Olt, who told Gordon Wittenmyer that he’s eyeing the opportunity to be the everyday third baseman.
“With Valbuena gone, I definitely have a better shot to be the everyday third baseman,” Olt said. “But I’ve still got a lot of work to do. You look into stuff like that, but you’ve really got to get out there and start playing again and prove it.”
If Olt can put the pieces together at the plate, it could make for some interesting lineup decisions. An outfield of Bryant, Dexter Fowler, and Soler — with Olt mashing at third base — would be fun to watch.
But a resurgent Olt is not a given — it’s going to take some work. He finished last year with a .160 average and 100 strikeouts in 89 games.
I’m definitely rooting for Olt to be a contributor this season, but I’m not exactly expecting anything. The nice thing is that the Cubs won’t be completely depending on him. They have other options, such as Arismendy Alcantara, Tommy La Stella, Javier Baez, and of course Bryant.
The depth and versatility of this team is going to be key.
Moncada to Red Sox
After months of speculation, super-hyped Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada has reportedly agreed to a deal with the Red Sox.
Moncada will receive a $31.5 million signing bonus, and the Red Sox will have to cough up a dollar-for-dollar tax penalty, bringing the total to around $63 million, according to ESPN’s Gordon Edes.
That’s a lot of money for a 19-year-old, but Moncada could be a special talent. And in addition to the Red Sox landing the prospect, it keeps him away from the rival Yankees.
Despite missing out on LHP Jon Lester (who obviously signed with the Cubs), the Red Sox have had a pretty huge offseason. They also signed third baseman Pablo Sandoval and shortstop (although he will likely play outfield) Hanley Ramirez.
It’s a pretty big bummer that the Cubs couldn’t get into serious consideration for Moncada, as all reports indicated they were very interested. The bottom line was that the young Cuban wanted to start playing right away, and that wouldn’t have been possible if he came to the Cubs, as he would’ve had to wait until July to sign.
* We should see resolution on the Joe Maddon tampering charges before the regular season begins, writes Patrick Mooney. Throughout the process, the Cubs have not seemed worried, and that seems to still be the case. “It’s not something that keeps me up at night thinking about,” Jed Hoyer said in response to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s comments on the charges. The Rays claim the Cubs “tampered” with Maddon before he opted out of his contract in November, but the Cubs and Maddon deny the accusation. I’m definitely ready for this story to go away.
* Cubs pitching prospect C.J. Edwards is writing a periodic diary for ESPN.com. His first installment is worth checking out. Edwards writes about meeting with the Cubs’ front office about comments he made regarding making it to the big leagues this year, and how they laughed about it. He also talks about “eating ice cream” with his fiancee during the offseason to try and gain weight. I’m looking forward to seeing what Edwards can do this year. Despite probably being the top-rated pitcher in the Cubs’ system, some people don’t see him as more than a bullpen arm. I’m rooting for him to be able to stick as a starter.