August 23, 2021 - 4:13 pm
OAKLAND, Calif. — As a youth, Kris Bryant was thrilled to attend Las Vegas’ Triple-A games at Cashman Field.
But Bryant was visibly more excited about the possibility of eventually taking his son, Kyler, to watch a major league game in his hometown.
“I think Vegas deserves a team,” Bryant said Friday before his San Francisco Giants opened a three-game series against the Athletics, who are in negotiations to move to Las Vegas. “Obviously, (a stadium) would have to be indoors. But it’s such a great town for sports, just in general.
“I think right now you’re seeing it with the (NHL) Golden Knights. And the fans absolutely love the team. And the (NFL) Raiders moving there with a new stadium, I think everything is moving on up. I think eventually we’ll see (major league baseball).”
Bryant, 29, is having a bounce-back season and has thrived since being traded to the Giants last month.
The Bonanza High School product is hitting .269 with 21 home runs and 59 RBIs this season, comparable stats to his 2016 MVP season when he helped the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2016 for the first time in 108 years.
In the three weeks since his trade to the Giants, he is hitting .277 with a .329 on-base percentage in 17 games.
“It’s been a very seamless transition for me,” said Bryant, who was traded minutes before the July 30 trade deadline for minor league outfielder Alexander Canario and pitcher Caleb Kilian. “That’s just made it easy for me to go out and be who I am.
“Just put my head down and go to work and do what I can to help the team. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
Giants manager Gabe Kapler saw the transition firsthand when Bryant went 1-for-4 with a home run in his first game with the team.
“You can tell he’s going to be a guy that grinds pitchers and sees and fights off pitches and puts some good swings on the ball,” Kapler said.
As much as he likes San Francisco, Bryant will be a free agent after this season, but the budget-minded A’s rarely have pursued marquee free agents.
Should the A’s move to Las Vegas, they will have to cope with the possibility of temporarily playing at 10,000-seat Las Vegas Ballpark until a stadium is built.
Bryant has worked out at the Triple-A stadium in Summerlin in the offseason and thinks the large fan support will supplement short-term efforts.
“I don’t know if they’d try to add another deck, but the location of that field is perfect in terms of people getting there,” Bryant said. “There’s plenty of parking, the park is off the (215) freeway, and there are tons of restaurants and shops around there.
“That would be a good spot for a big league team.”
Nevertheless, A’s president David Kaval is scouting several areas in the Las Vegas Valley, and land and location are key factors in a market that is swelling rapidly.
“I think things are definitely filling up very quick because people are moving there, and they’re building up a lot of houses,” Bryant said. “There’s a lot of space out where the Raiders’ practice facility is. If they do build it close to the Strip … I think there’s a place for it.
“That would be very cool to see a major league baseball stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.”
It also would be a significant upgrade from what Bryant thought was the standard when he attended games at Cashman Field.
“At the time I thought, ‘this place is awesome,’” he said. “And they had the misting system going on because of the heat. You don’t put a Triple-A ballpark indoors, but you look at the field, and it looked great.
“Looking back, Cashman needed some upgrades. But I couldn’t imagine a big league park they could make happen there. There’s a lot of space for it. I don’t know if it will happen in my time playing baseball.”
Bryant emphasized he would follow baseball in his hometown even if his 16-month-old son doesn’t pursue the sport.
“In terms of it being my hometown and seeing it grow and expand to what it is now, it’s very exciting,” he said. “You see why people are moving to Vegas, because there’s a lot of this stuff happening.
“Too bad there’s not enough water for anybody. But it’s a great spot to live.”
Mark Gonzales is a freelance baseball reporter who covered the Chicago teams for the past 15 seasons. Follow @MDGonzales on Twitter.