The arbitrator in Kris Bryant’s grievance has rendered a decision. According to Jeff Passan, “Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has lost his grievance against the team seeking an extra year of service, sources familiar with the ruling tell ESPN.” As a result, Bryant does not win free agency after this year and will remain under team control through the 2021 season.
Bryant can’t be surprised, as this was unwinnable from the get-go. Did the Cubs most likely mess with his service time to hold him back from free agency an extra year? Absolutely. BUT- Right or wrong (ethically speaking), they were within the confines of the rules that were agreed to by the MLB Players Association. Kris Bryant really has no one or nothing to blame but the CBA. The current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season.
Shortly after the decision, Chicago news reporter, Brad Robinson, tweeted that the timing of the decision was “Incredible.”
There’s absolutely NO reason that a decision should have taken this long, unless the arbitrator wanted it to be that way. Just speculating here, but if the arbitrator was unhappy about the service time manipulation, it didn’t matter; the Cubs violated no rules. He couldn’t rule in Bryant’s favor, but waiting until the day after Nicholas Castellanos – the last remaining top-50 free agent – signed with the Reds? This reeks of foul play.
There are a lot of implications that this decision may bring. Now knowing that the Cubs “got the best of him,” will Bryant become disgruntled? He says he won’t. If so, though, what’s that going to do to team morale?
For his part, Bryant says that he holds no ill-will, but then again, I’m sure he’s obligated to say that. He certainly – and understandably – had ill-will when he filed the grievance. If he was that mad then, how could he not be mad now, knowing that the Cubs – based on the premise of his grievance – got away with tampering with his livelihood?
The Cubs can, should, and probably will now focus on trading KB. He’s going to be upset over the decision and the Cubs can ill-afford morale problems in the Clubhouse. His trade value just shot way up, as teams know he’s controllable for two years now, as opposed to just one. Look for the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and quite possibly the Colorado Rockies to all be players.
The Potential Mega-Swap
The Colorado Rockies’ relationship with superstar 3B Nolan Arenado has soured in recent days and a trade now seems imminent. In Chicago, the Cubs need to fix a payroll issue. Clearing Bryant from the books would free up $18.6M for other signings or trades.
I wrote yesterday that an Arenado for Bryant trade seemed unlikely for several reasons, yet it could now happen. The two teams have now reportedly discussed a trade.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan stated on a Chicago radio station, that Arenado has interest in becoming a Cub. “Nolan Arenado would love to come play for the Chicago Cubs. He would love it,” he said.
Adding Arenado could be huge for the Cubs offense who struggled last year to generate runs. After a grievance process that lasted over four-and-a-half years, trading Kris Bryant could be mutually beneficial, giving Bryant and the Cubs each a fresh start. Neither city’s fans are likely to want to forego their superstar hot corner specialists, but this wouldn’t be a bad trade.
For both the Cubs and Rockies, this winter has proven to be very stagnate. Neither team has made any blockbuster moves, contributing to the disgruntlement of both fans and Nolan Arenado. Stay tuned, as the offseason may yet prove to have a big finish for the cities of Denver and Chicago.
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