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Report: Cubs’ Kris Bryant expected to lose grievance

Kris Bryant, Cubs

A few days ago, ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan reported the Chicago Cubs expect a decision on Kris Bryant’s service-time grievance within a couple weeks.

On Thursday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Bryant is expected to lose the grievance, which would have made him a free agent in 2020 if he won:

For all the talk about the Cubs asking high on Bryant, they cannot seriously begin trade talks until an arbitrator rules on his service-time grievance. The expectation within the industry remains that the Cubs will prevail and Bryant will remain under club control for two seasons rather than his desired one.

Bryant’s argument rests on the basis that the Cubs unnecessarily sent him down to Triple-A to start the 2015 season merely to gain another year of control.

While that is probably true, service-time manipulation has been going on in the MLB for years. And now, with the contracts given to the likes of star prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert (both by the Chicago White Sox) before they have played a single MLB game, it seems even more unlikely Bryant will win his case.

Bryant will likely be a free agent following the 2021 season, but the Cubs have explored trading the 2016 National League MVP and are looking for a lot in return. However, Rosenthal noted teams like the Washington Nationals might be unwilling to give up “five years of an inexpensive (Victor) Robles”– who would fill Chicago’s need for an upgrade in center field — for “(most likely) two of an expensive Bryant.”

Although the Cubs might still be caught between a rock and a hard place, Bryant losing his grievance probably does make him more tradable in the long run.