There was a period of nearly two weeks, maybe longer depending on your point of view, where no Cubs news would have been better than the bad news they kept delivering. But now that there shouldn’t really be any Cubs news, what we are getting about the team and its players still manages to be bad. Okay, so the Kris Bryant stuff is really just par for the course he’s been forced to play the last few years now.
Bryant addressed his future with the Cubs during Monday’s media availability prior to the Home Run Derby, saying “it’s all up in the air.” So that should be it, right? Not quite. While wearing a mic during the actual All-Star Game itself, Bryant was asked by FOX broadcaster Joe Buck about the topic — one color man John Smoltz had belabored over the course of the game — yet again.
“Right now, I’ve still got the ‘Cubs’ on my chest and I’m proud of that,” Bryant said during his mic’d-up moment. “I’m proud to play for such an unbelievable city. Until they tell me I’m not, I’ll go out there and give it all I’ve got.”
That’s a pretty measured response, one you might even call demure, especially given the circumstances. However, not everyone in the slugger’s family was as reserved.
“I simply cannot express my disappointment at Joe Buck asking my son about his future with the Cubs while he was playing left field in the All-Star Game,” Mike Bryant told Cubs Insider. “This was a classless act and has no place in the game. I’m so glad I was at the game and not watching it.
“There’s a time and a place for stuff like this, and this was neither. Kris deserves an apology.”
There’s not much more to say on this matter since the story has remained unchanged since at least the winter of 2019-20, so here’s to hoping the Cubs do something to stop the incessant questions. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the Cubs will receive enough value for Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, or Javier Báez to be able to move them, something we’ve been throwing out there for months now, but a lot can change in a few days.
Cole Roederer out for season with Tommy John surgery
Roederer hasn’t played since May 28 due to an injury, but information on the issue was sparse because teams are often mum when it comes to prospects hitting the IL. But as ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel reported Wednesday, the outfielder has undergone Tommy John surgery on his left elbow and will be out for the rest of the season.
Source: Cubs OF prospect Cole Roederer underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday on his throwing arm. He is expected to be ready for Opening Day 2022.
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) July 14, 2021
Roederer, currently ranked the No. 12 prospect in the system by MLB.com, is expected to be ready by Opening Day of 2022. There’s a little less optimism, however, when it comes to some other players who might otherwise have been joining him on the farm next season.
Draft picks honoring college commitments
The Cubs knew their draft strategy was a risky one, particularly given the bonus restrictions placed on picks 11-20, so the news about some of their second-half picks isn’t entirely surprising. Just a few hours after being selected 364th overall in the 12th round, outfielder Teo Banks from Permian High School of Friday Night Lights fame tweeted that he was honoring his commitment to Tulane.
After talking with my family and having many thoughts and prayers. I want to thank the Chicago Cubs for the opportunity. But I have decided that Tulane University is the right decision for me🌊.
— Teo Banks (@teobanks_42) July 14, 2021
Then came an announcement from 11th rounder (334th overall) Gage Ziehl, a righty pitcher out of Penfield High School in New York, that he was still planning to attend the University of Miami. He’s obviously got his sights set on a professional career because he specifically hoped to get another opportunity in three years. Or maybe he’s just confident he’ll complete his degree quickly.
Penfield’s Gage Ziehl writes on his Instagram story that he plans to follow through on his commitment to play baseball at the University of Miami.
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) July 14, 2021
It’s possible this is an attempt by one or both of these players to gain a little leverage in bonus negotiations, but that’s unlikely due to the restrictions in place for this draft. Teams have a hard cap on their draft pool, which applies to the first 10 picks. After that, there’s a limit of $125,000 for the next 10 picks with anything over that amount counting toward the overall cap.
The Cubs took prep players with their second and third picks and might have to overpay a bit to get them to forego college. That means having less left over to juice the deals for any of the seven high schoolers they chose on Tuesday, so the leverage angle might not exist. That said, I’m all for a kid trying to get an extra $50-100K from a tweet.
“I didn’t expect for us to be in the mix to potentially sign some of the high school talent that we selected today,” VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz told the media after the draft concluded. “I still don’t believe that we’re gonna be able to sign all the picks that we took today, but certainly a few of them.”
The other side of this is that the Cubs can now allocate whatever surplus they might have from their top 10 picks to a smaller pool of players from the bottom half. Either way, they’ve got to sign those earlier picks before they know what’s left.
We’ve got one more day without baseball before the Cubs head to Arizona, where the team has been even more hapless than even the worst moments of that 11-game skid made the Northsiders look.