Chicago Cubs could end up with just one year of Kris Bryant in the end

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

If the COVID-19 epidemic prompts Major League Baseball to cancel the 2020 season, the Chicago Cubs would stand to lose control over critical players.

Despite a reported agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA, the fate of the 2020 regular season is still very much up in the air. The nation and world continue to battle COVID-19 and it’s a fight that could continue for some time.

One aspect of that agreement between the league and the player’s union? Even if the 2020 season were canceled, players’ service time clocks will continue. What does that mean? For the Chicago Cubs, despite coming out on top in Kris Bryant‘s service time grievance this winter, it might mean winding up with one year of control over the former NL MVP, rather than two.

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As it currently stands, Bryant’s rookie contract runs through the 2021 campaign. Thus, if the upcoming campaign bites the dust, Chicago loses a critical year of control over Bryant, who is set to lead off for first-year manager David Ross.

Now, granted, that’s not the big picture here. The health and safety of players, employees and fans alike should be the sole driving factor in any decision regarding the 2020 season. But it’s still worth considering, as a fan, the impact a lost year would have on the Cubs as an organization.

The team’s current competitive window – or at least its run with the current core – is quickly nearing its end. Veteran southpaw Jon Lester is heading into the final year of his six-year contract; so if the season were to be canceled, we may very well have seen the last of Lester in a Cubs uniform. That’s not a thought I’d like to entertain, if I’m being honest.

But the hammer really falls after the 2021 season. Chicago stands to lose not only Bryant via free agency, but Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, as well. There have been ongoing discussions between Baez and the Cubs on a long-term extension, but nothing seems imminent on that front.

We knew this time would come. But I think most Cubs fans, myself included, knew we still had two go-rounds left with the core that helped end a century-plus of disappointment. Now, that seems to be on rather shaky ground.

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We’re in uncharted waters – and that’s putting it mildly. There’s no way of plotting a course forward at this point in time because no one knows what the future holds. As we sit here, one day after the MLB season was supposed to kick off, questions abound for the Chicago Cubs.