PITTSBURGH — Scott Boras already fought his PR battle for Kris Bryant, calling the service-time issue a spring-training story that’s over now that his client’s in The Show.
But Boras is always looking at all the angles, and the super-agent thinks Bryant should be used as a test case when the labor deal expires after the 2016 season.
Boras, who represents several high-profile Cubs, made an appearance at PNC Park to watch Addison Russell make his big-league debut in Tuesday’s 9-8 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Cubs kept Bryant and Russell at Triple-A Iowa long enough to make sure they gained an extra year of club control, delaying their free-agency ETA until after the 2021 season.
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Here’s how Boras would rewrite the rules for a mega-prospect trying to make an Opening Day roster:
“For example, I would say that the union or somebody may come in and say that they’ve made a claim that this player is major-league ready,” Boras said. “And that to place him in the minor leagues would not be appropriate from a skills standpoint. And then all of a sudden, it’s subject to review by a panel of former managers or baseball experts.”
The Cubs needed Bryant to miss 12 days from the major-league calendar, and that’s exactly how long it took before Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect got promoted. Boras would limit the board’s scope to high-profile decisions coming out of spring training (and not roster churn throughout the season).
“It’s objective in the sense that they’re neutral,” Boras said. “The only way subjective turns objective is that you’ve got the best-known experts who are going to make an evaluation of what they do.”
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Wouldn’t this just be a preemptive grievance process?
“No,” Boras said, “because in a grievance procedure, there’s an arbitrator. But an arbitrator is not a talent expert.”
Boras said he doesn’t know if the Major League Baseball Players Association will file for Bryant, who’s gone 8-for-18 (.444) with five walks and six RBIs through his first five games with the Cubs.
“I’m not involved in a grievance decision,” Boras said. “I don’t go to the union and say: ‘You should file a grievance.’ That’s their decision.”
When zinging the Cubs, Boras has always been careful to exclude Theo Epstein’s front office while targeting the Ricketts family. In the next rounds of collective bargaining, Boras believes this issue will have to be fought at the highest levels.
“It’s not about baseball-ops people,” Boras said. “Baseball-ops people are going to do what they have to do. They’re going to go through that. It’s really up to the owners. And I think it’s up to the MLBPA to make sure that they address this so that this is not brought down to the level of representation of players. It should be dealt with at a different level.”