The ruling by arbitrator Mark Irvings affirming that the Cubs didn’t violate the CBA when they held Kris Bryant in the minor leagues in 2015 long enough to give them an extra year of team control has had reaction and effects around baseball.
Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, issued a statement Tuesday:
“The Players Association disagrees with the decision issued today in the Kris Bryant service-time grievance. While we respect the finality of that decision, we will continue to pursue any and all measures that incentivize competition, discourage service-time manipulation and ensure clubs field their best players. We applaud Kris’ courage and determination in challenging the Cubs’ actions and seeing the grievance through to the end.”
This would appear to be a warning shot for the next CBA negotiations. The MLBPA is likely going to want sweeping changes in the service-time rules, as well as possible changes in the arbitration system and free agency. This could lead to contentious negotiations. At this time, I don’t have much hope for there to be an agreement between owners and players before the 2022 season begins, thus jeopardizing some or all of that season. And don’t think that can’t happen — remember that the National Hockey League lost an entire season (2004-05) over similar issues.
Beyond that, the trade of Mookie Betts might mean it’s a bit more possible that Bryant might be traded before the season begins:
With Betts now traded I have confirmed multiple NL teams have contacted Cubs re: Bryant offering packages of prospects/young players. Unsure if a deal gets done before Opening Day. If one doesn't Cubs probably hang on to him until July trade deadline. Tune in NOW on @ESPN1000— David Kaplan (@thekapman) February 5, 2020
I would think it’s better for the Cubs to keep KB until at least the trade deadline. If the team gets off to a good start and Bryant is producing, there probably isn’t going to be a desire or need to trade him. Dealing him now would send the message that the Cubs are “out” as contenders for 2020, especially if David Kaplan is correct that the return would be “prospects/young players.” That certainly wasn’t the case in the Betts deal, at least not entirely. If Bryant is to be traded now, I would want solid major-league players in return.
It’s not the sort of thing we’d expect to hear about just a week before the first pitcher/catcher workout day for the Cubs, but here we are.
The Red Sox made a definitive statement about getting under the $208 million luxury tax level with the trade of Betts. Will the Cubs do the same?