Kris Bryant Loses Grievance vs. Cubs, Will Become Free Agent After 2021 Season

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2020

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant throws out Los Angeles Dodgers' Austin Barnes for a ground out during the third inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, June 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs reportedly scored a victory when an arbitrator ruled against Kris Bryant in his service-time grievance.

Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, the decision gives the Cubs two more years of control over Bryant, meaning he won't be a free agent until after the 2021 season.

Passan noted the ruling is still going through final reviews and is expected to be made public within the next week. It will say the Cubs "did not run afoul of service-time rules."

Bryant's grievance stems from the Cubs' decision in 2015 to have him open the season in Triple-A. The team recalled him to the big leagues April 17, nine games into the regular season.

In spring training in 2015, Bryant led MLB with nine homers in 14 games, but the Cubs still sent him down to the minors to start the season. That came after he hit .325/.438/.661 with 43 homers in 138 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014.

Bryant filed his grievance in December 2015, alleging the Cubs intentionally manipulated his service time to delay his free agency one year. He accrued 171 days of service time as a rookie, one day short of a full year under official MLB rules.

Per Bleacher Nation's Brett Taylor, there are likely a number of reasons that it took more than four years to get the grievance settled, including the hope that the two sides could work out their differences without arbitration.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Jan. 9 that people in MLB anticipated the Cubs would win, leaving Bryant with an additional year of arbitration before hitting free agency.

He was already under contract with the Cubs for the upcoming season after signing an $18.6 million deal to avoid arbitration.

Now that there's resolution to the service-time issue, the focus could turn toward a potential trade.

According to ESPN 1000's David Kaplan, reports of Chicago's trade negotiations with other teams have been "greatly exaggerated" because the team's potential asking price would be different based on how many years of control he has remaining.

The Cubs could also choose to keep Bryant to open the season since their position players report to spring training in just over two weeks on Feb. 16. They can then reevaluate closer to the July 31 trade deadline. Even though they've been quiet this offseason, their roster is still capable of competing with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers atop the NL Central.

Heading into his sixth MLB season, Bryant has hit .284/.385/.516 with 138 homers in 706 career games and has been named to the All-Star team three times.

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