(670 The Score) While Cubs third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant has regained his MVP form in a resurgent season that also doubles as a contract year, he and his camp aren’t yet focused on what that means for his uncertain future, his father, Mike, said.
“We don’t think about money, value,” Mike said on the Bernstein & Rahimi Show on 670 The Score on Friday morning. “The Cubs are going to do what they want to do. They’re going to do what they think is best. Those things are just distractions. Kris has to play baseball. That’s what he does. He’s a professional baseball player. That’s his job, and he has to do what’s necessary to go out there and perform. The only thing he can control is what he’s thinking. You can’t control any outcomes. And the decision-makers are going to make decisions based on, ‘OK, can this guy still do it? Can he play?’
“I don’t even look at it as a critical juncture in his career. It is what it is. If he’s going to be able to play, he’s going to get a contract. Who knows how big it is, who knows how long it is. But he’s going to be able to play this game for awhile. Less than 1% of all the guys that play in the major leagues get to play 12 years. That’s pretty sobering when you think about it. And I think Kris is definitely going to be able to be one of those guys that has a career in baseball. So we just don’t think about it. You can’t control it. Trying to play under those conditions is ridiculous.”
After an injury-plagued 2020 season, Bryant is hitting .308 with nine homers, 12 doubles, 22 RBIs and a 1.068 OPS in 29 games. His’s tied for fourth in MLB in homers, and his OPS ranks fifth. Bryant is once again having fun on the field after being open about his injuries and struggles wearing on him in 2020 and before that too.
“You have to keep reverting back to your youth and realize why you played this game – it’s a fun game to play,” Mike said.
Bryant, 29, is set to be a free agent at season’s end. Considering he and the team have made no progress on contract extension talks, that naturally makes him a trade candidate this summer – especially if the Cubs fall out of contention. Chicago was 15-16 and 2.5 games behind the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals entering play Friday.
Bryant’s breakout season has come after he made a few key changes in consultation with his father and Cubs coaches over the winter and in spring training.
“The pitchers are pitching up in the zone,” Mike said. “We had to adjust his bat path. It takes time to make these adjustments. It takes a lot of hard work, lots of reps, a couple hundred hacks in the cage at a time daily. And then eventually, you just react accordingly. He flattened his bat at the top of the zone, made sure he was getting his hands above the baseball where the pitchers were getting (him) – he was missing under the ball. So we had to make some adjustments. We saw that basically over the last year.”