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Cubs’ Kris Bryant loses service-time grievance

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And thus he’ll be under team control through 2021.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

More than four years ago, the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, saying that the Cubs had manipulated his service time by holding him at Triple-A Iowa for 12 days in the 2015 season, in order to give them an extra year of team control. All the details are in this article.

Wednesday, per Jeff Passan at ESPN, Bryant lost that grievance:

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant lost his grievance against the team in which he sought an extra year of service time, ensuring he won’t become a free agent until after the 2021 season, sources familiar with the ruling told ESPN.

While the decision of Major League Baseball arbitrator Mark Irvings’ ruling in favor of the team was long expected, sources said, it definitively locks in Bryant’s value as Chicago considers trading him. With two seasons of team control, the Cubs can seek a far greater return than they could have had Bryant won and accelerated his free agency.

The ruling, which sources said is going through its final reviews before being made public within a week, held that the Cubs did not run afoul of service-time rules when they called Bryant to the major leagues in April 17, 2015. He had spent the first two weeks of the season in Triple-A after a dominant spring-training performance. Had the Cubs summoned Bryant a day earlier, he would have ended the season with 172 days of service, or a full year.

In theory, this increases Bryant’s trade value, as any team trading for him now would have control of him through the 2020 and 2021 seasons, instead of KB becoming a free agent at the end of the 2020 season.

In reality, it’s my view that Bryant probably won’t be traded at this time and will be the Cubs’ third baseman on Opening Day, March 26 against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Cubs management, which has made very few moves this winter, appears to believe the team can contend for a playoff spot or division title with the players already on the roster. More likely, if Bryant is to be traded in 2020, it would be at the trade deadline if the Cubs are not in contention at that time. A team dealing for him then would still have the full 2021 season with him under team control.

We’ll await the public reveal of the arbitrator’s ruling next week, as noted by Passan, to see what his reasoning was behind the decision. In the meantime, we’re one day closer to spring training and actual baseball.

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