Chicago Cubs infielder and Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant spoke this weekend for the first time about his service time grievance against the Cubs. You can read his comments here in the Sun-Times, and you will get the sense that Bryant isn’t trying to rip the Cubs or fundamentally change baseball.
Instead, Bryant is simply doing his part as a member of a union, and helping the players that will come after him. As I’ve said before, it’s a tricky situation, because only a young player could even be in a position to challenge these kinds of service time issues, and sometimes it’s tough for a young player to be thrust into this role. I think Bryant is handling it as well as possible.
As you may recall, because he was not called up by the team in 2015 until a hair into the season, Bryant will not accumulate enough service time in his first six seasons to reach free agency, yielding the Cubs an extra year of team control. That’s the thrust of what’s being challenged in the grievance.
In the end, a grievance was filed on Bryant’s behalf, and it shouldn’t be a surprise: with a new collective bargaining agreement looming, Bryant’s case was an absolutely perfect opportunity for the MLB Players Association to put forth an example of what has been, in their view, a broken system. Whether this, then, emerges as a legitimate case of Bryant/MLBPA versus Cubs, or instead simply becomes a bargaining opportunity, remains to be seen.
All sides have indicated that there has been no damage to the Cubs’ relationship with Bryant throughout this process – the Cubs have known about the grievance since last May – and everyone seems to understand that it’s just the nature of the business, and of the collective bargaining that is to come.