MLBPA keeping close eye on how Cubs handle Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant is one of those truly rare and special talents. Recognized by ESPN’s Keith Law and Baseball America at the No. 1 prospect in baseball, Bryant is a major-league ready hitter with at least All-Star upside. Nothing he’s done during his time in the minor leagues has cast any doubt over those expectations either. In fact, he delivered a minor-league best 43 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season, which has actually raised the expectations.

If it were up to Bryant, his agent Scott Boras, and especially fans of the Chicago Cubs, his prodigious power would have been on display as early as last September. Unfortunately, the decision lies with Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, and thanks to a quirk in the rules, it’s possible we won’t see him at Wrigley Field until there’s ivy on the outfield wall.

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It’s the same scenario that played out with the Houston Astros and George Springer last season. Under the current system, players who are called up within the first 11 days of the regular season are under club control one year less than players called up afterward, so the Astros simply stashed Springer in the minors for two weeks to delay his free agency. It’s a legal maneuver, and it’s something the Cubs will likely use to their advantage

As Patrick Mooney of Comcast SportsNet Chicago notes though, the Cubs could actually wait until late May or even June before promoting Bryant in an effort to also delay his arbitration. The significance of waiting that long would revolve around Bryant’s Super Two status. If Bryant ranks among the top 22 percent of eligible players in service time between his second and third seasons, he would become a Super Two player, meaning he’s eligible for arbitration one year earlier, but would still have the three arbitration years that are guaranteed. 

That can mean the difference of millions of dollars, which is why clubs often try to work around this rule by holding out top prospects until later in the season. It’s a business decision and once again it’s within the parameters, but it’s a strategy that’s also gaining more attention recently, in particular from MLBPA executive director Tony Clark.

With that in mind, Clark made it clear again this week that he’s aware of what teams of are doing, and that he’ll be paying particularly close attention to Bryant’s situation because of the obvious talent that’s involved.

“We have always (believed) – and will continue to believe – that it’s in everyone’s best interests to have the best players playing at any particular time,” Clark said. “Any rules that are in place that some may be using against the spirit of how they may have been designed, we don’t believe (that’s) in anyone’s best interest – the fans, or anyone that loves our games, the players, or even the clubs for that matter.

“We will continue – as we always have – to monitor those types of scenarios and situations in the hopes that everybody does what’s best for the game.”

Of course, there’s nothing Clark can do right now to combat these tactics or appease agents like Boras, but it gives him a better idea of what changes he’ll need to seek out when the current collective bargaining agreement runs out following the 2016 season.

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As for the Cubs perspective. You can already sense the maneuvering, which should come as no surprise at all.

“He’s certainly got a lot to work on,” Hoyer said. “He’s only had one full (professional) season and that was five-months long. His defense is the biggest thing. We talk a lot about his progression defensively and certainly that’s the area of the game that needs the most work. He had a great offensive season. There are things that can improve.”

(USA TODAY Sports)

The Cubs have also hinted at playing time in the outfield this spring, which could give them another opening to seek further development in the minors. Still, the Cubs can’t conceivably keep Bryant off the field during spring training. That will serve as his opportunity to showcase his skills and change minds. Ultimately, the onus falls on him to make the Cubs decision a difficult one. It’s what comes after that that could lead to some interesting conversations. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Curtis Glencross dealt to Capitals for pair of 2015 draft picks

Curtis Glencross wanted an extension from the Calgary Flames. The team didn’t agree with the numbers his camp put together so on Sunday the forward was dealt to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second and third round pick in the 2015 draft, according to Chris Johnston.

Glencross, who had to waive his no-trade clause to approve any deal, has 9 goals and 28 points in 53 games this season, while his fancy stats are okay for someone who’s played tough minutes. He was also a key cog on the Flames’ power play, averaging 2:14 of ice time with the man advantage, recording eight points.

With no future for Glencross in Calgary, captain Mark Giordano heading to injured reserve and the Flames now three points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, it’s a smart move by general manager Brad Treliving. Picking up two extra draft picks for a 32-year old you weren’t going to extend is just good business, especially if the GM still in the market for a defenseman and newly-acquired assets in hand.

As Calgary slowly says goodbye to their playoff hopes, the Capitals are hoping Glencross can find a fit somewhere in their top 12. But does his acquisition settle Barry Trotz’s lines going forward or muddy the waters?

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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Stacy Lewis hanging on to 1-shot lead at Honda LPGA Thailand

After her Friday 64 to take the lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand, Stacy Lewis talked about the need to not look back and keep moving forward at Siam Country Club.

Lewis did not move forward on Saturday, shooting a 1-over 73 in Round 3 that left her with a one-shot lead heading into the final round. The 30-year-old is at 13-under 203 and just ahead of Amy Yang, who carded 71.

“It was a bit all over the place today,” Lewis said. “Hit some good shots, hit some shots too far.”

The world No. 3 struggled early in her third round, making three consecutive front-nine bogeys to lose the lead. It took an eagle at the drivable par-4 15th to regain the lead from Yang. A bogey at the par-5 last hole was a disappointing way to finish the round. However, Lewis said it’s an all-too-common conclusion to her rounds at this venue.

“This 18th hole just frustrates me,”  she said. “Over the years it’s gotten my number more times than it’s been good.”

Sandra Gal is another shot back in third, with Mirim Lee and Jenny Shin tied for fourth at 10 under par.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Bubble breakdown: NC State tumbles back to the bubble

With less than three weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, the NCAA tournament bubble is beginning to take shape. Bubble Breakdown is the Dagger’s daily look at the results that impact who’s in and who’s out.

Maybe NC State only plays well when its backs are against the wall. Maybe NC State really enjoys visiting Dayton in mid-March.

Whatever the reason, the Wolfpack seem to be drawn to the bubble like a magnet to steel.

Only four days after a victory at rival North Carolina appeared to solidify NC State as an NCAA tournament team, the Wolfpack tumbled back toward the cutline with a humbling 79-63 loss at last-place Boston College. They never led the entire game and fell behind by as many as 23 points against an Eagles team that entered play with only one ACC victory and hadn’t won a game in over a month.

If huge wins over the Tar Heels, Louisville and Duke had NC State trending toward a No. 8 or 9 seed prior to Saturday’s loss, the Wolfpack (17-12, 8-8) can no longer feel so secure now. Eight RPI top 100 victories probably would keep NC State in the field as of today, but the Wolfpack no longer have much margin for error with a road game at Clemson and a home game against Syracuse left before the ACC tournament.

If NC State wins both those games and avoids a bad opening-round loss in the ACC tournament, it will likely wrap up a bid no matter how it fares in the ACC quarterfinals. If the Wolfpack suffer a loss in their next two games, merely making the ACC quarterfinals may not be enough to leave them feeling safe on Selection Sunday.

To get the wins it needs, NC State will certainly have to play better than it did Saturday when it was listless and lackadaisical from start to finish. The Wolfpack sank less than one third of their shots at one end and surrendered 24 points to Boston College star Olivier Hanlan and 56.4 percent shooting to the Eagles as a team at the other end.

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The bubble is certainly a familiar place for an NC State team that has made the field as a No. 11, No. 8 and No. 12 seed the past three years despite entering the NCAA tournament with double-digit losses each of those seasons.

A more relaxing Selection Sunday appeared possible for NC State after the North Carolina win. No so much anymore.

BUBBLE TEAMS WHOSE STOCK ROSE SATURDAY

St. John’s (20-9, 9-7): It’s getting tougher to envision St. John’s not making the NCAA tournament. The Red Storm have overcome a 1-4 start to Big East play with six wins in their last seven games culminating in an 81-70 victory over Georgetown on Saturday in their home finale. Nine RPI top 100 victories including sweeps of both Providence and Xavier have St. John’s trending toward a No. 9 seed or so entering the final week of the regualr season. If the Johnnies can win at either Marquette or Villanova next week, they may be securely in the field of 68 regardless of how they fare in the Big East tournament. 

Other bubble winners: Rhode Island (59-56 at La Salle); Georgia (68-44 vs. Missouri)

BUBBLE TEAMS WHOSE STOCK FELL SATURDAY

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

St. Brown brothers preparing to invade Division I football world

Osiris St. Brown (left) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (right) with their parents, John and Miriam Brown.

The name “St. Brown” stands out on the back of a football jersey much more than simply “Brown” does.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the St. Brown brothers – Osiris, Amon-Ra and Equanimeous, names you likely aren’t familiar with now, but soon will be. All three brothers are Division I football prospects – Equanimeous has already committed to play receiver at Notre Dame next season,Osiris, a sophomore has an offer, while Amon-Ra, only a freshman already has two scholarship offers.

Let’s start with those names – Greek Gods, at least Osiris and Amon-Ra. Equanimeous is a bit more complicated.

“A lot of people ask about our names,” Amon-Ra said. “I have to tell the story every time, and I just say my dad is different, so he gave us different names.”

The father is John Brown, a two-time Mr. Universe winner (1981-82) and three-time Mr. World champion (’81, ’83, ’84). His body building days took him from his hometown of Compton, Calif., to all over the world. While in Germany, he met the woman who’d become his wife, Miriam Brown.

Equanimeous St. Brown enrolled at Notre Dame in January.Not only did John and Miriam name their children after Egyptian gods, they also added “St.” to their kids’ last names. John said that’s because he wanted his sons to be distinguished.

It’s possible he already saw them as football players.

“I changed their last names because I thought about what it would look like on the back of their jerseys,” John said. “What’s the last name Brown? There’s too many. I said to my wife, let’s go with St. Brown.”

A unique name isn’t all the St. Brown brothers have to distinguish themselves. Their elementary school days were spent at an all French-speaking school in California.

“It was never a question to me when I came here that my children should speak different languages,” Miriam said. “I sent them to a French school where they spent just one hour a day speaking English.”

In addition, Miriam spoke her native German language to the St. Browns and still does to this day. The St. Browns learned English from John. When listing to Amon-Ra speak, it’s easy to pick up a French accent.

Speaking three languages is no doubt appealing to any college recruiting the St. Browns, who also excel in all academic subjects.

“They’re good students,” Miriam said.

They’re also good football players. Amon-Ra, who holds offers from Utah and Washington State, just completed his freshman season at Servite (Anaheim, Calf.), and he’s the most promising prospect of the three if you ask him.

“Me, of course,” Amon-Ra said when asked who’s the best football player of the three. “I’m the most athletic. I’m the one who can play any position on the field.”

While Amon-Ra’s recruiting process is still developing, receiver Osiris has formed a top five of Stanford, Notre Dame, Florida State and UCLA.

Both Amon-Ra and Osiris said they’ll wait until their senior season before making a decision, just as Equanimeous did.

“My brother playing at Notre Dame obviously has an impact,” Osiris said. “But I’m keeping my process wide open because I want as many schools to choose from as I can.”

One thing’s almost certain: Distance from home won’t be a factor. When the St. Browns were still attending the French-speaking elementary school, their parents wondered how well they were learning French.

“We knew they were making A’s, but it was a private school, and I didn’t know exactly how much they knew,” John said.

So the Browns made the decision to send their kids, who at the time were in grades 3-5, to a school in France for seven months.

“I was scared at first,” Osiris said.

“I’d be scared too,” John said. “My parents put me on a plane, to go to school in France? What are you talking about?”

Amon-Ra didn’t know enough about what was going on to mind.

“I didn’t really care,” Amon-Ra said. “I didn’t have many friends at the time so I just went along with it.”

As it turned out, the French education the brothers were receiving in California paid off once they arrived in France. They spoke the language, made friends and did well in school.

“They finished in the top of their class,” John said. “Teachers were shocked that these kids from California could be top in their class, so I was pleased we enrolled them at the [California] school.”

With a well-rounded foundation, the St. Browns are looking to excel at the next level, with the ultimate goal being for all of them to reach the NFL.

“When we were young, Dad asked us what we wanted to become,” Amon-Ra said. “We said we wanted to play football. He said he’d show us the way and he’s been taking us through [this process] our whole lives.”

Though his expertise is bodybuilding, John believes his experiences as the world’s No. 1 bodybuilder can be passed on to his sons’ football lives.

“I tell them that I’m from a different sport,” John said. “It’s an individual sport, so all I know is how to be the best in the world. But I can train you to be the best in the world, as well. I can teach you how to dominate.

“That’s what it’s all about.”