We have been waiting... and waiting... and waiting... for the Cubs to make more significant offseason moves than minor-league signings or depth relief pitchers.
And it has been widely assumed that one of the major reasons we are waiting is that the Cubs have to “clear payroll,” and one of the ways to clear said payroll would be to trade Kris Bryant.
Further stipulated that it is difficult to trade Bryant at this time because of the uncertainty surrounding his service-time grievance. Teams potentially acquiring him don’t know if they will have one year of team control or two. Naturally, if you are one of these teams, you don’t want to make a move now. (It’s widely assumed that the Cubs will win this grievance, but you never know.)
Here’s one reason why things seem stuck in neutral:
Briefs from both sides in the Kris Bryant service-time grievance were due today. A decision will come in the new year. Unclear if it will be as soon as January — hundreds of pages need to be sorted through by arbitrator Mark Irvings.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 21, 2019
This seems... sub-optimal. “Hundreds of pages”? I mean... this grievance seems pretty clear-cut. Either the Cubs manipulated KB’s service time or they didn’t. I suppose there’s testimony from various folks involved as well as other documentation, but this alleged violation of the CBA happened in April 2015, and the grievance was filed four years ago, on December 7, 2015.
You’d think something like this would take fewer than four years to settle, but here we are.
If the Cubs have to wait until January — or later — to get clarity on which way this grievance will go, and thus increase or reduce any trade return they might receive in return for Kris Bryant’s services in trade, well then, they might as well throw in the towel, admit they’re not going to be making any major roster changes for 2020, and go into battle beginning March 26 with more or less the same folks who finished up 2019.
And seriously, Major League Baseball has to figure out some way to get grievances like this settled in a lot less time than four years. The Cubs should have known Kris Bryant’s free-agent date by Opening Day 2016, not Opening Day 2020.