Cubs Star Kris Bryant 'Motivated' by Criticism, Trade Requests by Twitter Users

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2019

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant smiles in the dugout in the third inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

If Kris Bryant gets back to his MVP form in 2019, Chicago Cubs fans can thank Twitter for their third baseman's resurgence.

After hitting a home run in his first spring training game on Saturday, Bryant explained how criticism during the offseason is serving as a motivating factor.

"Definitely, a little bit," Bryant said, via ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers. "But, boy, it was great. When you're not playing, you have a whole lot of time to just sit there and either go through a Twitter rabbit hole and start seeing things about yourself, or seeing things about 'trade him' and this and that. And I'm like, 'All right, I'm motivated. Keep 'em coming. Bring it.'"

An injured shoulder landed Bryant on the injury list for the first time last season. The two-time All-Star missed 60 games total, including 36 straight from July 23 through August 1, and his performance suffered as a result.

Bryant's .834 OPS and 13 homers in 2018 were the lowest single-season totals of his four-year career. ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported in November the Cubs were open to trading their 27-year-old third baseman. 

Cubs president Theo Epstein dismissed the report at the general manager meetings. 

"I answered a general question about whether we have untouchables," Epstein told reporters. "Like most every organization, we will listen to anything, but that's just an operating philosophy."

The Cubs have been fairly quiet all offseason. Outside expectations have been pessimistic about the team's chances heading into 2019, including Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system projecting them to finish last in the National League Central with a 79-83 record. 

It's a bleak outlook for a team that won 95 games last season without Bryant being healthy most of the way. If he plays up to his usual standard, the Cubs are more likely to compete for a World Series title than fall under .500 for the first time since 2014.

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