It took the Chicago Cubs 108 years to end their infamous World Series drought.
It took fewer than three years for rumors to spread that the Cubs are now keen to trade one of the guys most responsible for halting baseball’s longest futility streak.
That most responsible guy is Kris Bryant of Las Vegas, who hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs in 2016 en route to being named MVP of the National League and sending trendy Rush Street on the Windy City’s near north side into a tizzy of epic proportions.
With the longtime lovable losers facing elimination, he smacked home runs in Games 5 and 6 of the Series. In Game 7 against Cleveland’s Indians, Bryant
was the one who fielded a nubber off Michael Martinez’s bat and threw across the diamond to his pal Anthony Rizzo, who tapped first base and then tucked the ball into his hip pocket for the Series’ final out.
Pigs did not fly at Progressive Field that night. But it seemed there were angels in the Chicago outfield and a 6-foot-5-inch cherub with chin whiskers at third base.
Now, if you believe the published reports, the Cubs are thinking about trading Bryant because in two years he will become a free agent and will demand far too much money through his tyrannical agent, Rich Uncle Pennybags, aka Scott Boras.
Here is a list of teams for which Bryant could soon wind up swatting towering fly balls over outfield walls, according to one of those ubiquitous published reports: Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Padres, Rockies, Cubs.
Another report, also unconfirmed, said that the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine of the 1970s also may be interested in obtaining the Bonanza High product for its next reunion, and that he could be the player to be named should the Bad News Bears break training again.
The rampant trade rumors were among a number of topics Bryant discussed during a 10-minute scrum with media Thursday as he and a bunch of local pros worked out at Las Vegas Ballpark.
“I tune everything out, especially in this world we live in now,” said the lanky slugger, who was sporting a Red Bull stocking cap and a trademark smile that could light up Wrigley Field by itself. “You’ve got to tune out stuff that doesn’t benefit your day-to-day life. If I’m just focused on that each day, it sounds miserable.
“I’ve been happy working out at such a beautiful place like this; I’m ready to get going. I’m playing baseball for a living. I can’t complain about anything.”
And even when he could complain, Bryant didn’t.
No comment on grievance
It was the first time he had entertained questions since losing his grievance against the Cubs this week. An arbitrator ruled Chicago did not manipulate his service time in calling him up one day too late in 2015 to qualify for free agency after this season.
“I guess out of respect to the Chicago media — I didn’t get a chance to talk to them there during the (Cubs) Fanfest because I had the flu — I’m going to wait until spring training to answer those questions,” Bryant, 28, said. “So sorry I can’t answer those here.”
He smiled again, and then he smiled even wider when asked about becoming a father. He and his wife (and former high school sweetheart), Jess, are expecting a baby boy in April.
“That’s the most exciting thing that has happened this offseason,” Bryant beamed. “I’m sure when he actually gets here it will put things more in perspective. We put his room together yesterday, put his crib up. It’s just an unbelievable blessing.”
Most of the youngsters who were admitted into the ballpark free might have been thinking the same thing after Bryant made multiple trips to the chilly side (shaded stands along first base) to make sure everyone who asked had received an autograph.
He even signed for the pushy grown-ups, several of whom said they would be back on Big League Weekend when the Cubs play the Reds, at which time they probably will have acquired more of his rookie cards.
Bryant smiled and flexed his autograph fingers. If he’s still with the Cubs then, there’s a good chance he’ll probably sign each and every one.