Cubs

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

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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.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Will 4 days off help or hurt the Cubs?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Will 4 days off help or hurt the Cubs?

With the Cardinals being shutdown by MLB for a COVID-19 outbreak in the organization, the Cubs had an impromptu four days off after stringing together one of the best records in baseball so far. Will having the days off help or hurt them going forward?

David Kaplan and Gordon Wittenmyer discuss the Cubs' impromptu weekend off, Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger breaking protocol and going out in Chicago, and a 'what if' scenario that could have changed the Cubs getting Aroldis Chapman in 2016.

(1:20) - Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger breaking safety protocol to go out in Chicago

(7:09) - Cubs get four days off due to the Cardinals' coronavirus outbreak

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

(9:30) - Is David Ross following in the steps of Joe Maddon with some of his methods?

(16:00) - How will MLB fix the missing games that teams will have at the end of the season?

(18:40) - Cubs wanted Andrew Miller initially, not Aroldis Chapman in 2016

Listen here or below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Jason Kipnis enjoying 'fun ride' with Cubs, but 2016 World Series still stings

Jason Kipnis enjoying 'fun ride' with Cubs, but 2016 World Series still stings

A peppy voice shouted from offscreen, drawing Jason Kipnis’ attention away from the pregame Zoom setup in front of him. Kipnis chucked as he spotted Mike Napoli, his former Indians teammate and current Cubs quality assurance coach.

“Ask this guy about 2016,” Kipnis said to the reporters on Zoom as Napoli bobbed into frame.

“It was the greatest year of our lives,” Napoli shouted.

At least Kipnis had someone with him who knew what it was like to lose to the Cubs in the 2016 World Series.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Kipnis returned to Progressive Field on Tuesday, for the first time since he signed with the Cubs as a free agent in February. In the Cubs’ 7-1 win against the Indians on Tuesday, Kipnis hit a double and scored a run on a wild pitch. It was his first time in a decade-long career facing Cleveland.

The Indians had drafted Kipnis in 2009. He’d made his major league debut with the club two years later. And he spent nine seasons in Cleveland.

A “homey vibe” hit him as the Cubs touched down in the airport Tuesday and drove to their hotel. Familiar views greeted him.

What was new was walking to the ballpark from the hotel, going through a different entrance.

“I'm actually being steered to probably a few hallways I didn't know existed,” Kipnis said.

He’d been to the visiting clubhouse before but never to the batting cages or weight room. He was seeing a new side of a building that he’d called home for so many years.

Plus, he was doing it in Cubbie blue. One of his most agonizing experiences at Progressive Field had come at the hands of the Cubs. His current teammates had made up the young core of that 2016 World Series Cubs team.

“I’ve already had Rizzo walking me through, ‘I celebrated here, I celebrated here,’" Kipnis said before the game. "I’m like, ‘Thanks, buddy. I get it.'”

Kipnis said there was never a real path for him to return to the Indians for this season.  Asked if the option was closed off on his end or the teams’, he said, “My phone never rang, I’ll put it that way.”

Instead Kipnis, a Northbrook native, joined his hometown team. Over the summer, Kipnis posted on Twitter that being a Cub was still a “mindf*ck” at times.

When he and the Indians lost World Series Game 7 at home, after blowing a 3-1 series lead, 99 percent of Kipnis was “absolutely crushed.”

But he said one percent could “look back at the field the last second be like, ‘Hey, at least it's the Cubs.’

If the Indians were going to lose, at least it was to a team with a 108-year World Series drought.

Kipnis likens his feelings about playing for his hometown team this year to that ratio. He’s overwhelmingly excited about representing Chicago and playing for his friends and family. One percent of him aches every time he sees the 2016 banners or World Series highlights, neither of which he can escape in Chicago.

“I have to keep reliving it,” Kipnis said. “… It sucks, but it was a fun time in ’16, and I don’t regret anything about it”

This year has been Kipnis’ first experience switching teams. He’s been locked in a position battle at second base with Nico Hoerner and has been efficient in limited at-bats. In seven games, Kipnis is batting .368, with five extra-base hits. He kept the ball from his first home run as a Cub.

“When you get back into that hunter mentality, it's fun,” Kipnis said, “because then you push yourself to stay at it. You might not feel great some days, and you normally might have taken a day off or something to rest the body, but now you just find a way to get something productive done that day.

“And I think especially coming here in Chicago, where I know now I have even more family and friends watching games, and friends of friends, everything, it's been like a little bit more motivation to stay on top of myself.”

The COVID-19 pandemic ensured that Kipnis would get to play his former team this season. Regular season schedules became regional, so the NL Central Cubs play the AL Central Indians four times this year.

But the pandemic also ensured that Kipnis wouldn’t be able to greet fans in person, or his former teammates and coaches how he’d like to – some of them with “bull-rush” hugs.

“I've invaded these guys personal spaces for about nine years,” Kipnis said. “I think I can take a day off from giving them a hug.”

The Indians played a tribute video for Kipnis before the game. Players and staff members applauded him. Kipnis stepped out and waved his hat at the empty stands.

Like much of this season, Kipnis’ return wasn’t anything like he could have imagined when he put pen to paper back in February. But at least publicly, you won’t hear any complaints from Kipnis.

“It's been such a fun ride here so far,” he said.

 

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