ESPN - Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant lost his grievance against the team in which he sought an extra year of service time, ensuring he won't become a free agent until after the 2021 season, sources familiar with the ruling told ESPN.
With two seasons of team control, the Cubs can seek a far greater return than they could have had Bryant won and accelerated his free agency.
The ruling held that the Cubs did not run afoul of service-time rules when they called Bryant to the major leagues in April 17, 2015. He had spent the first two weeks of the season in Triple-A after a dominant spring-training performance. Had the Cubs summoned Bryant a day earlier, he would have ended the season with 172 days of service, or a full year.
Instead, with 171 days, Bryant felt short of a year by one day -- and accordingly had his free agency delayed by a full season. Players reach free agency as soon as six full years of service. Bryant will have six years, 171 days when he hits free agency following the '21 season.
Bryant filed the grievance after his rookie season, and the process has taken more than four years to resolve.
Huge news in the baseball world today and I don't say that lightly. Boras and Bryant were after a landmark decision that would have effectively overruled decades of collectively bargained for precedent. That detail above...
With 171 days, Bryant felt short of a year by one day
That's part of the equation that the Players Association agreed to when determining a player's free agency, arguably the most coveted designation in a player's career. It's in plain writing: you need 172 days on the MLB roster to get 1 year of service time, and 6 years of service time to hit free agency. So when you do the math on Kris Bryant's free agency, you get a pretty simple result.
At the end of this year, he'll have 5 years and 171 days of service time under his belt, good for 5.99 years aka not 6 years. That means another round of arbitration and 162 more games before he can hit free agency and presumably leave town.
I say presumably because it's pretty obvious the Cubs held him back to maximize control. And while that's technically allowed, as proven by the ruling and centuries of contract law, you still can't tell me it's not a total dick move to do the guy by one day. I mean it's not like they brought him up in June where the lie could have really had some substance. No my friends - the Cubs pulled the trigger as close to the deadline that the rules would allow. So of course Boras is going to be a good agent and go after the Cubs and try to blow this up, even if he knows it's a lost cause. Ultimately there's going to be a major change in the next CBA, and this case is going to lay the groundwork.
For now, I want to turn back to the Cubs and Bryant specifically. I've previously laid out that this was a budding fucked up situation that would presumably open up trade doors. Some good background here:
The basic concept is KB/Cubs relationship wasn't exactly damaged as much as it never really got a chance to even start. Out of the gate, the franchise MVP gets a nasty taste of the business in baseball. And naturally, that shit impacts his perspective while basically destroying the concept of him wanting to be A Cub For Life. Take your team friendly extension and shove it.
But then from Theo's perspective - could you even bank on a team friendly deal? Would you risk known outcomes like guaranteeing 6.991 years of control at the chance of bending Scott Boras's will? And what if KB becomes a near unanimous MVP candidate and makes a friendly deal impossible? Or what if the rebuild gets delayed another year because the 2015 team sucks. Who saw Arrieta winning a Cy Young? So many variables made that a difficult decision for Theo, and in hindsight he made the right one for the Cubs. As you see now, there's no such thing as a team friendly deal once you become a superstar. It's Fair Market Value or get the fuck out.
As such, you can't fault anyone in this entire story. All of it makes sense from each perspective. KB won ROY and should have been the starting 3rd baseman. The Cubs had no obligation to move him up, but plenty of motivation to keep him down. Scott Boras is repping his client the best he can and Theo is doing everything he can to maximize the Cubs' chances of success. The end result is a beautifully balanced chicken pot pie of professional perspectives. Just a couple of guys all trying to do their jobs.
For the Cubs, the path forward might mean trading Kris Bryant, or at the very least, hold serious trade dialogue ASAP. Castellanos signing with the Reds while the Cubs load up on Comeback Player Of The Year candidates is proof the club has shifted its priorities. The logical step since we have no money to spend would be trimming down the core while restocking younger talent that isn't in the backend of arbitration.
Logically, KB's the best way to get there now that it's firmly decided he's got 2 years of control left. And obviously it goes without saying but no one wants to trade KB. I mean are you out of your fucking mind?
But this is where we're at. Things just haven't worked out to the point where KB can get a blank check while the Cubs need to offset years of stunted progress in the farm system. This wouldn't be a problem if there were dudes knocking on the door and forcing playing time conversations but they're not. No one is. What we have now is identical to what we had in 2017, minus Addison Russell's dog ass and Castellanos ripping up the NL for 2 months.
So how would you fix it?
I don't know either.