There’s a reason why teams try to settle with players before going to arbitration. It’s a messy process that doesn’t necessarily involve being friendly to the other side.
The resulting tension from having to argue against your own player is something the Cubs are apparently dealing with in the aftermath of the Kris Bryant service-time grievance. Bryant lost the case and, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, does not sound happy with his organization.
The basis of Bryant’s case was that the Cubs were deliberate in keeping him in the minors longer just so they could have an extra year of contract control. That’s not starting from a point of good intentions.
Nightengale had reported that the Cubs “lied to him and that he “feels unwanted, underappreciated, and believes the organization openly lied during the arbitration hearing.” However, an updated version of his story no longer has a mention of this.
According to Bob Nightengale, Kris Bryant feels "unwanted, underappreciated, and believes the Cubs openly lied during the arbitration hearing."— Patrick Schmidt (@PatrickASchmidt) January 29, 2020
So that's going well.
I want him. I appreciate him and I would never lie to him about how much I want and appreciate him.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has a contradictory report, with a source claiming there is "no ill will whatsoever" between Bryant and the Cubs.
In reality, none of this should be surprising. If Bryant didn’t feel like he had been wronged, he wouldn’t have filed the grievance in the first place. Once at the hearing, the sides are literally arguing against each other, which can easily lead to more contention.
Bryant may have already been on his way out of Chicago, whether via trade or eventual free agency. But reports that the former MVP is unhappy with the Cubs won’t help their chances of re-signing him.
What it does perhaps change is the Cubs' urgency to trade Bryant. Bringing back an unhappy player may not be the best way to move forward. It could hurt the market for Bryant because teams will know the Cubs are motivated to trade him. The Cubs, however, don’t necessarily need more leverage in trade talks. Multiple suitors should provide plenty of that, competing with each other to get the winning bid. The Bryant grievance case has been viewed as the key starting point for the Cubs' offseason, and it does look like the stage is now set.