You should never confuse me as someone who praises the manipulation of service time for Major League Baseball players. I defend minor league players and celebrate them — almost to a fault. Brennen Davis is one such player, and not just because he’s an elite talent with as much upside as anyone in the system since a guy named Kris Bryant. Davis is also a next-level human being whose work ethic and people skills have been heralded by teammates, broadcasters, and media members that I have talked to.
Okay, now that I’ve cleared that up in advance…If Davis begins the season in Triple-A, it is not because of service time manipulation. I’m sure there are some people out there saying, Of course it’s not, you idiot. Look at his 30.7% strikeout rate in Double-A last year.
But really, I don’t even think it’s about that. If Davis began the 2022 campaign roaming Wrigley Field, he would most likely hold his own. Would he be an immediate superstar? Probably not. Would he be an above-average regular? Yeah, I’m pretty sure of it.
Fortunately for player development timelines, though, this isn’t the 2015-19 Chicago Cubs. There’s no need for the front office to prioritize World Series-contending promotions over the short- and long-term development of their top prospects.
Look at some of their previous would-be superstars that spent almost no time in Triple-A before being called up to help the big team, only to be sent back down after struggling in the majors. That list includes Javier Báez, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Ian Happ.
The 2022 Cubs are not World Series contenders, not unless they add Carlos Correa and others. They don’t need to jeopardize the development of a 22-year-old with a little over one full season’s worth of career plate appearances under his belt. I respect the hell out of fans defending Davis from the standpoint of a very simple concept: Davis is good and he deserves to be in the majors where he’ll be paid a much better wage.
But we are talking about a guy that has the potential to be a fixture in the bigs for 15 years, so he also deserves to have his development taken seriously. So as much as fans like me tend to side with the players over the front office, this isn’t one of those situations in which the team is simply trying to milk another year of contractual control by holding a player back for a little less than two weeks.
Davis should begin the year in Triple-A, where he can continue his minor league development in preparation for a sparkling MLB career. Even if that costs the Cubs a win or two once the season mercifully starts, and even if it’s an inconvenience to those of us who want a chance to see what he can do on the game’s biggest stage, it’s what’s best for the long run.