Kris Bryant Discusses Trade Rumors, Playing for David Ross, Astros’ Sign Stealing

Kris Bryant seems pretty happy for a guy who’s mad at the Cubs and is about to be traded, depending on which reports you choose to believe. Addressing local media members after unleashing “about 25 towering majestic home runs” at a recent batting practice exhibition at Las Vegas Ballpark, the expectant father flashed his trademark grin and talked about his offseason workouts (full video).

“Just me and my dad, the stadium’s empty,” Bryant said. “Just hearing the crack of the bat and how loud and how…the echo it makes, it’s just a peaceful feeling for me just to get out here. It takes me back to when my dad, in Little League, just me and him on the field. It’s the same thing.”

The illusion of a child’s game wears off pretty quickly when you start making big money to play in front of packed ballparks, and the business side of the game has been front and center for Bryant this winter. He declined to speak publicly about his recently concluded grievance hearing out of respect for the Chicago media, but said to expect quotes when gets to spring training. He did, however, answer a question about the trade rumors that have continued to swirl.

“It was tougher last year when that was going on,” Bryant admitted. “But now, like I said, I have bigger things to worry about in the offseason in terms of starting my own family, which has been great. I just tune everything out, especially in this world we live in.

“You gotta tune stuff out that [doesn’t] really fit your day-to-day life, and if I’m just focused on that each day, it just sounds miserable to me. So I’m happy. I’ve been out here working out in such a beautiful place like this and really enjoyed the offseason, and I’m ready to get going.

The speculation isn’t stopping anytime soon, but it’s looking more and more likely that Bryant will still be in a Cubs uniform when camp opens. That means playing for former teammate David Ross, a prospect Bryant seemed really pleased about.

“Just interacting with him I knew that he’d be a manager someday, and I knew he’d be a really good one,” Bryant said. “I know he’s yet to start his manager career, but just the way he communicates with people and how he treats you, how he gets the best out of you, he knows when to get on you [and] when to leave you alone. I’m just super excited to see him do his thing as a manager.”

The Cubs are super excited about Manager David as well, to the extent that they seem to be banking on his ability to jump-start a group that has remained largely unchanged from the one that suffered through collapses each of the last two seasons. Some may scoff at that, but there are actually a few pretty simple ways in which the rookie skipper can affect positive changes right away.

And no, banging on trash cans to signal pitches is not among the options. The Cubs have actually been mentioned among the other teams that may have engaged in some sort of espionage, though their efforts were characterized as little more than dabbling. That probably wouldn’t have sat well with Bryant, who didn’t mince words when talking about the cheating scandals that rocked MLB.

“I’ve talked with a lot of people here and I think it’s worse than steroids,” Bryant said. “You know, steroids you still have to hit the ball. When you know what’s coming, it takes what’s good about this game out of the equation. There’s no strategy involved if you know what’s coming and it’s made a lot of people mad around the sport, me included.

“I’m okay if you’re doing it the right way. If you’re skilled enough to get the signs from second base with the sequences that the catchers are putting down, all the power to you. But if you’re doing it in ways that they were, there’s just no room for that in the game.”

It’s a little strange to hear Bryant speak seriously on this and other topics because he’s got such an earnest aw-shucks demeanor and can’t keep from smiling. During one answer he even paused to admire a homer that had just been hit — “Nice!” — before continuing on. But he was clearly happiest when talking about his first child, a son due in April.

The nursery has been arranged and clothes are being purchased, but it doesn’t sound like there’ll be a toy bat in the crib. Bryant said he’d prefer his son take up golf, a quiet sport in which people aren’t yelling at him all the time. Yeah, good luck with that. I’ve got a feeling Grandpa Mike is going to have the kid in the batting cage tracking pitches from his stroller as soon as he’s out of the hospital.

Okay, maybe he’ll give it a month.

In any case, those are the bigger things Bryant is worried about this offseason. That grievance decision was merely the expected result of a situation that dragged out far longer than anyone had initially believed it would. The resultant trade rumors are an unfortunate side effect of stardom. Regardless of what uniform he’s wearing, though, Bryant’s keeping his priorities in order and maintaining a proper perspective.

“Whatever happens, happens. I’m playing baseball for a living, I can’t complain about anything.”

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