With Kris Bryant reportedly set to lose his service time grievance, the Chicago Cubs have a better idea of what they’re working with heading into 2020.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required), former National League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Kris Bryant will lose his service time grievance, giving the Chicago Cubs two full seasons of control moving forward.
The grievance, which was filed at the conclusion of the 2015 campaign, alleged that the team manipulated Bryant’s service time by waiting a few weeks to promote him. The former first-rounder tore up Cactus League pitching – but the Cubs opted to start the year with Mike Olt holding down the hot corner.
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Of course, Bryant came up and helped the team turn the corner. Chicago wound up winning 97 games, which was good for third place in the National League Central. But come October, Joe Maddon‘s club knocked out the two teams that finished ahead of them in the standings in the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals before being bested by the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.
At year’s end, Bryant earned NL Rookie of the Year honors – and with good reason. He put up a 136 wRC+ in 151 games, hitting .275 with a .369 on-base percentage. From start to finish, he showed – irrefutably – that he belonged in the big leagues.
Obviously, since that rookie season, the former University of San Diego star has gone on to do some pretty tremendous things – including help the Cubs end a 108-year championship drought. He’s already cemented his legacy in team lore – but faces a very uncertain future.
The Chicago front office has reportedly been shopping Bryant the entire offseason – but not knowing how much control he came with handicapped Theo Epstein when talking with prospective trade partners, including the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers.
But with that question now seemingly answered, it seems like there’s a good chance the Bryant rumors pick up steam – especially once Josh Donaldson decides where he’s playing next season. Epstein has maintained a sky-high asking price when it comes to Bryant, and rightfully so. Despite battling through injuries each of the last two years, we’re still talking about a player perfectly capable of altering the trajectory of a franchise single-handedly.
This entire offseason has been a stagnant disappointment. While much of (and rightfully so) the blame sits at the feet of the Ricketts family, the uncertainty surrounding Bryant’s grievance case has undoubtedly impacted Epstein’s ability to do his job effectively.
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We can only hope that, now, he’ll be able to salvage this situation and piece together a roster capable of contending in 2020 and beyond – while living within ownership’s budget mandate.