After the Cubs made the long-expected decision to start Kris Bryant in the minor leagues this year, the Major League Baseball Players Association ripped the team in a statement I discussed here.
MLB has responded to that MLBPA statement, in the latest sign that this was always about the broader issue and about setting up discussions for the next CBA (via ESPN):
In accordance with long established practice under the Basic Agreement, a club has an unfettered right to determine which players are part of its opening-day roster. This issue was discussed extensively in bargaining in 2011, and the principle was not changed. We do not believe that it is appropriate for the players’ association to make the determination that Kris Bryant should be on the Cubs’ 25-man roster while another player, who, unlike Bryant, is a member of its bargaining unit, should be cut or sent to the minor leagues.
You can tell from that statement that this is about the CBA, and only barely about the Cubs and Kris Bryant.
I hope this isn’t a sign that the CBA negotiations, which will probably get very heavy after this season, will be particularly antagonistic. There are a large number of issues on the table that need resolution (draft pools and draft pick compensation, international signings, revenue split, pace of play, designated hitter, etc.), and this is going to be one of them.
We’re seeing the negotiations already. It just so happens that the unseen hand decided Bryant was the perfect player to become the exemplary case. He seems bright and mature enough to play through it, and I doubt the Cubs are unduly affected, either. It just means that Cubs fans are going to hear a whole lot about it.