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Maybe Kris Bryant will be a Cub in 2020 after all

There were some clues at the Cubs Convention

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

All winter, we have been deluged by rumors that Kris Bryant would be traded, presumably so the Cubs could get their payroll below the first luxury tax level of $208 million. There have been rumors connecting him with the Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Mets and others.

But read carefully these remarks from Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein at the Cubs Convention Saturday:

“We expect that (Bryant) would be our third baseman, but we’ve been open and transparent about the fact we’ll talk about all our players this year,” Epstein said. “We have to. We have to be more mindful of building a successful future — post-2021 for this group. We’re running close to that point where a lot of our best players will be in a position to leave and we’d get nothing in return.

“Because of that, we’re in a position where we’re going to listen to everybody. We value Kris. We respect everything he’s done. We appreciate everything he’s done. We look forward to many great days ahead and we hope he’s part of it.”

We are, of course, still waiting for an arbitrator to rule on Bryant’s service-time grievance from 2015. Here’s the article I wrote when that grievance was filed — more than four years ago. It still astounds me that this has taken so long to come to a resolution. The underlying facts haven’t changed since December 2015 (when that article was written) or April 2015, when KB was kept at Triple-A Iowa just long enough to give the Cubs an extra year of team control.

It’s been widely assumed that the Cubs will win that arbitration and have Bryant under team control through 2021. But with the spring training reporting dates just about four weeks away and the first spring game not long after that, it would seem to me that the Cubs will likely press ahead with Bryant on the roster on Opening Day in Milwaukee.

Which leaves two possible scenarios:

  • The Cubs get off to a great start, perhaps lead the division, with Bryant playing well and they decide to drop any trade thoughts for now, or
  • The Cubs struggle and are only at the margins of contention around the trading deadline and decide they’ll deal him then.

The latter, of course, presumes the arbitrator has ruled by July. Given the glacial pace this has already taken, that’s not a given.

In the meantime, I am coming around to the idea that Bryant won’t be traded before the Cubs take the field in Milwaukee March 26.


Will Kris Bryant be on the Cubs’ 26-man roster on Opening Day, March 26 in Milwaukee?

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