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Well That's Awkward - Kris Bryant Is Fighting The Cubs For Screwing Him Over Free Agency

Chicago Tribune –  A source confirmed Wednesday that Bryant is alleging the Cubs in 2015 manipulated his potential free agency when they promoted him from Triple-A Iowa one day after he would have qualified for a full year of service time, which would have allowed him to become a free agent after the 2020 season.

The Cubs promoted Bryant on April 17, 2015 — one day after Mike Olt was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his right wrist. Olt suffered the injury five days earlier on a hit by pitch but played two games before the fracture was revealed.

Bryant is under team control (through arbitration) through the 2021 season.

First and foremost – huge news with the hiring of David Ross being official. So before anything else on KB, important to start there. Congrats to David and good luck to me as I figure out what to call him now that he’s the manager. Skip? Rossy? Pa? Daddy?

The deal is normal on length and let’s assume the money is near average. I blogged my thoughts on the move yesterday here (blog 1) and here (blog 2) if you’re thirsty for takes.

For now I want to just briefly acknowledge, together with you The Reader, that it’s Huge News to hire David Ross. Arguably the biggest storyline since the Cubs won the World Series if you want to package his hiring with Joe’s firing. HUGE.

And while the focus will largely remain on Ross for obvious reasons, this Kris Bryant stuff could actually turn out to be way more impactful.

In fact, it’s so significant that you could argue the timing behind the two events isn’t just coincidental. It’s a downright diabolical smokescreen to keep the media zigging on Ross while the Cubs zag on KB. Good thing KAP’s on the scene:

Guy is breaking shit left and right which probably means the Marquee network is about to name him their #1 guy but that’s beside the point. Congrats to Kap on his massive land purchase in Scoop City, a town secretely owned by Rick Hahn. If you don’t get that joke start listening to my fucking podcast and let’s keep moving.

This Kris Bryant news is huge. I’ve said that. Here’s why:

You need 6 full years generally to be a free agent. KB came up 1-day short of 2015 being considered a full year for him so it didn’t really count towards him becoming a free agent. I’m skipping a lot of details to keep it simple here guys so work with me. Long-story-short: The Cubs brought up KB the day after 2015 wouldn’t count towards his free agent calendar. They said it was because he needed to work on his defense at 3rd. In the meantime the Cubs played Mike Olt.

If you remember (you probably don’t) Mike Olt was a recovering top prospect from the Rangers. He was once considered a top 3rd baseman in the minors but concussion problems fucked with his future. He ended up on the Cubs as a rebound trade piece and next thing you know he’s failing miserably in the big leagues. Olt hit .160 in 258 plate appearances in 2014 while KB posted a 1.098 OPS in AA.

Heading into 2015 it was pretty clear KB was the 3rd baseman of the future. But still, he had yet to play in AAA and was objectively below average defensively. The Cubs had built enough of an argument to stash him in Iowa for a little and give Olt one more shot at a major league career.

Big problem though: Olt broke a bone in his hand on Aril 12th. That should have naturally moved KB to the big league roster before the April 17th deadline but the Cubs allegedly kept Olt around a few days before moving to the DL to keep KB in Iowa and thus delay his free agency.

I assume at this point I don’t need to emphasize financial details. You should be smart enough to know that becoming a Free Agent is a huge deal.

So the argument becomes KB got hosed by the Cubs. The MLB is looking at it and there’s going to be some kind of ruling.

My Guess: KB is shit out of luck. This is all controlled by the collective bargaining agreement. KB is essentially arguing that he and his agent have a better pulse on when he’s Major League ready than the General Manager. Fuck that argument and the precedent it would set. It basically opens the floodgates for unlimited player grievances over how the clubs manager Service Time, the single most important economic factor to players.

Giving that up would be a massive concession. So big that I’d be stunned if KB got his way and MLB granted him free agency after 2020. That’s such a big move that you could only expect it to come from a collective bargaining process. Otherwise I’m a monkey’s uncle and Joe Girardi is the right manager for the Cubs.

End Of The Day – Talk about an awkward relationship, right? It makes sense to entertain KB getting traded on the basis that he’s going to cost you the farm at some point. Any notion of a friendly extension flew out the window on April 13th, 2015 when Mike Olt woke up with a broken hand and Kris Bryant woke up on the AAA roster. So if you’re going to pay a fortune for him, is there a reason to get a young return and then earmark his $$ for a Free Agent?

Personally, I’d take every serious phone call this offseason on KB. Especially if he loses this grievance as logic, history and common sense suggest. You can spin his time here however he wants but my golden rule is I don’t want guys who don’t love it here. Even if that’s full meatball I don’t care. The margin between good, great and World Champion is really fucking small. If this is the behind the scenes stuff, maybe – just maybe – it’s not as perfect as it could be.


KB’s one of the best Cubs of all time. A world class 3rd baseman at the peak of his skills. Certainly he deserves every dollar he’ll make in his career so please don’t kid yourself otherwise.

We’re just here on the blog talking out loud and I’m thinking that if things aren’t perfect and we’re finishing in 3rd place, maybe we get some young guys in here that don’t cost a lot and won’t file grievances against the front office.