Have you been on the edge of your seat waiting for news regarding Kris Bryant’s service-time grievance? If so, sit back, relax and enjoy some quality holiday time with your family.
A decision on the grievance won’t come until after the new year, The Athletic’s Evan Drellich reported Friday.
Briefs from both sides in the Kris Bryant service-time grievance were due today. A decision will come in the new year. Unclear if it will be as soon as January — hundreds of pages need to be sorted through by arbitrator Mark Irvings.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 21, 2019
Bryant filed the grievance after the 2015 season, alleging the Cubs manipulated his service time to secure an extra year of control on his contract. The Cubs sent Bryant to Triple-A to start the 2015 campaign despite the third baseman looking big-league ready in spring training. Bryant slashed .425/.477/1.175 with nine home runs in 40 at-bats.
The Cubs called Bryant up on April 17, 2015, as Opening Day third baseman Mike Olt suffered a right wrist injury on April 11. Had Bryant been called up a day sooner, he'd be under team control through 2020 — his age-28 season. Instead, he won't hit free agency until after 2021, pending the outcome of the grievance.
A hearing on Bryant’s grievance with the MLB Players Association was heard back in October, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan. It’s odd that two months have passed without a major update, not to mention the fact that briefs from Bryant and the Cubs were due in the thick of the holiday season.
The drawn-out process has somewhat hindered the Cubs from making any serious moves this offseason. They could look to trade Bryant, whether he wins or loses his grievance, and teams have reportedly been inquiring with the Cubs. However, Bryant's value will be impacted mightily if he wins, as teams will likely offer less for him because he’d only be under contract through next season.
Granted, the Cubs may find potential offers not to their liking and opt against moving Bryant. But the ongoing case makes the situation extremely cloudy, regardless.
In addition to hindering trade talks, the grievance has made it tough for the budget-conscious Cubs to conduct any major moves this offseason. Win or lose, if they opt to trade Bryant, the Cubs would clear his projected $18.5 million salary for 2020 off their payroll. That money could be used to address other needs on the roster.
With the case dragging on, the Cubs have only made low-key roster moves this winter. Bryant’s contract isn’t to blame for this; after paying the luxury tax in 2019, the Cubs may just be looking to get under the 2020 threshold of $208 million to avoid repeat offender penalties, reseting for 2021.
Nonetheless, the grievance outcome taking this long has played a role in how the Cubs' offseason has taken shape. Drellich said a decision will come in the new year, but that could be Jan. 1 or much later. The longer this process takes, the longer things will be unclear for the Cubs’ future in 2020 and beyond.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams easily on your device.