Chicago Cubs: Trading Kris Bryant isn’t as simple as it might seem

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs still waiting on ruling in Bryant’s grievance case

Epstein has a lot of problems this offseason. Ownership has put a hard stop on spending and may very well have mandated the team get under the luxury tax threshold for 2020.

His club has countless holes and shortcomings and, without money, addressing them becomes increasingly difficult. Oh, and the easiest way to do so would necessitate trading a superstar like Bryant – which the team can’t do until they hear back on the outcome of his service time grievance.

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In theory, such a decision will be coming in January. But even then, that leaves Epstein mere weeks to work out a deal to send Bryant packing before the Cubs will report to Spring Training in Arizona.

The grievance, filed after the 2015 season, alleges the team manipulated Bryant’s service time when they called him up in mid-April in order to gain an additional year of control. Now, there’s little doubt in my mind personally that’s exactly what happened. But the Cubs have cover. Their starting third baseman, Mike Olt, went down less than a week prior to this with a wrist injury. They needed a third baseman and, lo and behold, Bryant makes his debut.

What’s at stake? Well, everything – at least when it comes to the team’s offseason plans. If the arbitrator rules in favor of the Cubs, Epstein can sell other clubs on a franchise-altering talent with two years of control. If things go the other way, it’s a very different story as Bryant would hit free agency at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign.