How Scott Boras would change Kris Bryant's service-time case


How Scott Boras would change Kris Bryant's service-time case

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.

[MORE CUBS: Starlin Castro wants to win now with Addison Russell]

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.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get a Kris Bryant jersey right here]

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.”

Despite payroll-cutting rumors, Cubs reportedly showing interest in Dallas Keuchel

Despite payroll-cutting rumors, Cubs reportedly showing interest in Dallas Keuchel

The tone of the rumors for the early part of the Cubs offseason has been that of salary-cutting and not saying they are connected to high-priced free agents.

Even when it has come to their own players, Cole Hamels and Nicholas Castellanos, the rumors weren’t positive. Hamels landed with the Braves on a one-year deal and a recent report said there’s “not a chance” Castellanos returns.  

The Cubs are supposedly trying to get under the luxury tax and still have some work to do on that front even if Castellanos doesn’t return.

With that context out of the way, here’s a rumor that fights the recent narrative. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports that the Cubs have real interest in Dallas Keuchel.

From a roster perspective, Keuchel makes some sense. Hamels’ departure means the Cubs could want an upgrade in their rotation. Keuchel would help solidify a longer-term future for the Cubs’ rotation (Jon Lester and Jose Quintana are free agents after 2020).

That said, it seems unlikely the Cubs would want another long-term contract on the books for what could be near $20 million per year. Either the Cubs aren’t worried about the luxury tax or they aren’t in on Keuchel unless a series of salary dump moves occur first.

On top of that, there are cheaper alternatives on the pitching side and reasonable in-house candidates to take the fifth rotation spot behind Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Lester and Quintana. Josh Lindblom is one external candidate who wouldn’t be expensive and the Cubs have apparently been in talks with.

The Keuchel rumor could be as simple as the Cubs exploring all avenues and doing their due diligence with the 31-year-old. If it comes to fruition, it could mean the Cubs are in for a busier offseason than expected.

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Kap and Tony in San Diego to discuss trades and if Castellanos is returning


Cubs Talk Podcast: Kap and Tony in San Diego to discuss trades and if Castellanos is returning

David Kaplan and Tony Andracki are at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

1:00- The Cubs have already shed a lot of payroll but they still have a ways to go. How is that possible? Tony crunched the numbers to find out.

5:00 - Tony and Kap react to Tom Ricketts' comments to the Sports Business Journal about the team's inability to develop pitching and how the Wrigley Field renovations have affected the budget.

8:00- Will the Cubs trade a member of their core this week? Tony says don't get your hopes up, Cubs fans. Kap is a little more optimistic. Plus, would the Cubs be better off dealing Jose Quintana now as he enters the final season of his deal? (14:00)

19:00- The Cubs farm system isn't what it used to be. Tony talks about the prospects that are there now that might help the big league club.

21:00- Is the door closed on Nicholas Castellanos returning to Wrigley? Tony says there's a light bit of an opening. He explains why.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast