Kris Bryant revealed this week that being a perpetual of source of trade rumors over the past few seasons has robbed him of the pure enjoyment of simply playing baseball.
Appearing on “Red Line Radio,” a Barstool podcast, the Chicago Cubs star admitted the past few years have been a particularly tough stretch, which only has been exacerbated by an inability to measure up to his incredible early-career success.
“At times, no,” Bryant said when asked if baseball brings him any joy at this stage, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN. “It really got to me sometimes. The stuff I was hearing. The first trade rumors [in 2018] that started to pop up really got to me. I find myself [thinking], ‘Man, is this even fun anymore? Why did I start playing this game?’ Because it was fun.
“There’s a lot of other stuff involved. You make a ton of money and fame and all this. You have to get yourself back to why I started playing.”
Bryant struggled mightily in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, slashing at a .206/.293/.351 clip — a precipitous drop from his career marks — while hitting only four home runs and driving in 11 RBI across 36 games.
Now, with free agency looming following the 2021 season adding further stress to go along with the persistent trade rumors and batting woes, Bryant is simply looking for a way to get things back on track while admitting — as he did ahead of the 2020 season — that there are bigger things going on in the world right now than baseball.
“I found myself sitting there, ‘I don’t have that joy right now,'” Bryant said. “I’m trying all I can to get back to that place. This year was really rough for me personally, not just stats-wise. I still had a good time [despite COVID-19 protocols and struggles]. Making the most of a terrible situation.”
There’s no question the 29-year-old Bryant has the talent to turn his career around, regardless of whether he remains with the Cubs, is traded this season or ultimately departs in free agency. After all, the three-time All-Star was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 before playing an integral role in the Cubs’ World Series title in 2016 and earning NL MVP honors along the way.