Chicago Cubs: The Kris Bryant service time issue is a familiar one


When Spring Training begins, many teams have a good idea who will be part of their ballclub come Opening Day. There are always a few surprises, as rookies and veterans alike “tryout” for a spot on the roster. But the case of the Chicago Cubs Kris Bryant is a tricky one, and one not unfamiliar to the Cubs.

At this point, most fans of baseball–not just the Cubs–are aware of Bryant’s situation. If the Cubs wait just 12 days to bring him to Chicago, they will gain another year of control. With what he’s shown so far, that seems like a fair trade, and one the Cubs would be smart to take.

But Theo Epstein has made it clear that it will be a “baseball decision”, and that one of the biggest questions is Bryant’s defense. His shoulder issues, which clearly aren’t hampering his swing, could help the Cubs make their case for waiting.

But some Cubs’ fans may not remember that Mark Grace made his way up under similar circumstances. In 1988, the Cubs had veteran Leon Durham holding down the first base bag. But a young red-hot prospect named Mark Grace was on fire, pushing for the Opening Day job. But in a similar fashion, the team left him down, waited till May to make the call-up, and then traded away the aging Durham.

The players union claimed the Cubs waited to save on Grace’s service time, but the team never made mention of that publicly. which is the same reason you won’t hear Theo and Co. make that declaration now. It would simply be ammunition for the union to use against the Cubs.

Fox’s Ken Rosenthal believes the union should file a grievance, regardless if they believe they would win the outcome. That’s not to say he doesn’t agree with how the team is handling it, just that the loophole needs to be addressed.

"Make no mistake: If I were Epstein, I would handle this exactly the same way, particularly knowing that Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, generally prefers his clients to establish their values on the open market rather than accept long-term extensions."

The thought is that by filing the grievance, the union would make it clear that this needs to stop, and put club’s on notice that things need to change when the CBA needs to be renewed in 2016.

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The Cubs, based on the CBA, are protected and would in all understanding be in the right, even if the practice seems wrong. But the fact that the front office won’t address it as a service time issue means that they are at least aware of its “ethics” being in question.

If the Cubs had a more experienced player already at third base, or were considered to be “terrible” again this year, and not wanting to put Bryant in that situation, this might not matter. But with new expectations, and little experience at third, it’s hard not to believe that he isn’t the best man for the job.

One more year for 12 days though?

I would take it too.

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