Kris Bryant

First, Bryant takes home the minor league HR crown over his buddy Joey Gallo...for that he got a trophy and $200 per home run. Then USA Today named him the minor league player of the year, thanks in part to that HR crown and an eye-poppin 325/438/661 slash line with 78 total extra-base hits in less than 600 PA's between AA and AAA. And then Baseball America placed him on their 2014 Minor League All-Star team. It's been a helluva nice run for fans with Alcantara, Hendricks, Baez and Soler coming up, but the two best are very likely still awaiting their phone call and bus ticket.

So while 2015 looks like a year of hope instead of despair, the end of 2014 has been a pleasant surprise. The Cubs have played .500 ball over their last 100 games and there's little reason to believe they won't be able to at least match that next season and hopefully surpass it. I have to believe they're firmly entrenched in the spoiler role for the remaining games and as the "team no one wants to play." It would be even more fun if Anthony Rizzo wasn't out for a good time (possibly the rest of the season) or however long Castro will be out, but seeing what the kids can do without the pressure of September is going to make this last month of games fun to follow.

- In minor league news, Daytona trashed Dunedin last night 11-1, Vogelbach and Schwarber hit home runs and the team combined for 7 extra-base hits. Rob Zastryzny went 6 innings, giving up just a run on 4 K's, 1 BB and 5 hits. Boise lost their opener to Hillsboro though, 5-2, thanks in large part to 4 errors. Jake Stinnett started and went 5 innings with 8 K's, 0 BB's, 2 H and just one unearned run. Alex Tomasovich had the lone extra-base hit, a home run, but also contributed one of the errors that lead to one of Hillsboro's runs. All 3 playoff teams go tonight, Daytona goes with Tayler Scott, Kane County throws out Jen-Ho Tseng and Boise begins with Jeremy Null.

Tsuyoshi Wada fired five innings of shutout ball with seven strikeouts, Javier Baez collected three hits and three RBI, and Josh Vitters ripped a solo HR and an RBI double, as the AAA Iowa Cubs defeated the Salt Lake Bees (Angels AAA affiliate) 7-1 on Field #6, and C. J. Edwards and four relievers combined to toss a two-hitter and Rubi Silva stroked an RBI single and an RBI double, stole a base, and scored a run, leading the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs AA affiliate) to a 4-1 victory over the Arkansas Travelers (LAA AA affiliate) on Field #3, in Cactus League Minor League doubleheader action this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.   

Tyler Skulina and five relievers combined to toss a four-hitter, and Carlos Penalver tripled, singled, walked, and scored both Cub runs, as the Cubs and the SK Wyverns (KBO) played to a 2-2 tie in Arizona Instructional League action this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #4 in Mesa. 

UPDATE: Bryant has indeed signed at slot value of $6,708,400, according to Sullivan. That would put the Cubs at $10,743,400 and $186,900 over and would still have $340,925 to play with before having to worry about losing a draft pick.

So a few weeks back, Jon Heyman must have been starved for a story or gets paid by the headline and decided to freak everyone out with some alarming piece about the Cubs and Bryant seemingly miles apart in negotiations. The rest of the sane world realized that this is Scott Boras and he'll wait until the last possible minute and get the most money he can out of the Cubs, but the odds were quite low that it wouldn't get done.

Lo and behold, Heyman is back today saying that the Cubs and Bryant are nearing a "record" deal. The deal isn't done yet and the details are scarce, but earlier reports were Bryant wanting over $6.7M which was the slot value, while the Cubs wanted to pay more in the $6M range. Now the Cubs can go as high as $7,049,325 by my calculations and still stay withing the 5% penalty that would cost them just a tax. Any higher and they start losing draft picks. BUT...they allegedly already signed 24th round pick Tyler Alamo and 12th round Trevor Clifton and both were expected to land deals over $100K which will go against the bonuss cap. An earlier story on Clifton's signing said he wanted 3rd round money and got it (anywhere between $490K to $747K). So it remains to be seen what Bryant will get, but I'm putting the over/under at $6.5M.

As for the "record' portion of the report, I'm not sure what that is in reference to. I believe Stephen Strasburg currently owns the bonus record at $7.5M and it's highly unlikely that the Cubs will top that because that would end up costing them a draft pick next year. Maybe it's a Cubs record that Mark Prior currently holds at $4M (although Soler received a $6M bonus, but he wasn't drafted). Or it's a record for baseball since they installed the cap, which Mark Appel currently owns at $6.35M. Why would the Cubs pay more for Bryant? Well leverage is the key, Appel had less as a college senior unless he wanted to try independent ball route that Luke Hochevar manuevered a few years back into a higher deal. Bryant though, as a college junior, could head back to San Diego and hope he gets picked #1 next year and get whatever #1 slot money is in 2014, which does adjust for inflation.

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