Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant’s time not ‘nefarious’ by the team

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

It’s official. The Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant were not ‘nefarious,’ and he still has service time till the 2021 season.

The Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant and arbitrator Mark Irving decided that Theo Epstein’s rationale was just. In 2015, the Cubs move to keep him down for one more day was ‘valid,’ and the third baseman’s plan was kept on hold for the 2021 season.

In a 42-page report, Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella were mentioned, prompting the call-up of Bryant. If he had been called up a day earlier, he would be eligible for free agency in 2020. Fair? I don’t know. But if he has another year of control? So be it.

"“The association could not satisfy its burden of proving that the Cubs’ assignments of Bryant were done in bad faith to mask service time manipulation,” Irvings wrote.“Given this finding, there is no need to resolve, and this decision does not address, the global issue of whether clubs have the right to manage service time to delay a player’s achievement of the service benchmarks for salary arbitration and free-agent eligibility.”"

Then, Bryant made three errors in eight games. He did bat .425 with nine homers in 40 at-bats in spring training. But the sore shoulder limited him defensively, and Irvings couldn’t deny that.

"“The fact that Bryant amassed the worst fielding percentage of any third baseman in baseball during spring training cannot be ignored,” Irvings wrote."

Epstein also said time served was a ‘secondary consideration,’ considering he had the bum shoulder. He did hit .321 with seven home runs at Triple-A Iowa. He was off on April 16, and he was called upon the 17th to face the San Diego Padres the next day.

"“The association was not able to produce memos, emails or texts from Epstein to show he had a nefarious motive at variance with his public comments,” Irvings wrote, adding that “unforeseen events had forced Epstein’s hand.”"

Is Irvings biased towards the Chicago Cubs? Maybe. But an arbitrator IS  an arbitrator. You can’t discount them. Now, Union head Tony Clark? He’s ready. He will bring it up in the bargaining contract that expires in December 2021.

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The Cubs started 5-3 but would go on to a 97-65 record and taking the Wild Card berth. The took down the St. Louis Cardinals, eventually being eliminated by the New York Mets in the NL Championship Series. The Cardinals were the perfect finish to the season. Eliminating them from the playoffs? Perfect.

In the end, Irvings may not have been perfect in his explanation of it. But he was fair and just. Well, maybe not just. But he was honest, and Bryant wasn’t upset with it. At least on the surface. So it’s all good until 2021.