On Monday, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark indicated that there was no actual update on the Kris Bryant service time grievance just yet.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to report.
Prompted on whether there’s any chance Kris Bryant could be a free agent after the 2020 season (instead of the currently schedule 2021 season), Clark’s response was a little murky. “Your question is fraught with a number of challenges,” he said, via CSN Chicago. “However – when and if there are grievances related to Kris or anyone else on this particular issue – that is part of the conversation.”
And if that is a surprise to you, let me call your attention back to Ruben Tejada of New York Mets, who recently received one extra day of service time as part of his arbitration settlement this winter after rumblings of a grievance.
Like Bryant’s situation, Tejada was at one point re-called on the exact day that eventually provided the Mets one additional year of team control on his contract. With 172 days constituting a “year of service time” and six years of service time leading to free agency, Tejada was scheduled to finish 2016 with five years and 171 days of major league service time. Now, Tejada will finish the 2016 season having completed six years of service time and be eligible for free agency.
So, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark isn’t wrong or without precedent. There appears to have been at least one actual case in the past, with a player awarded a day of service with the implicit purpose of him reaching free agency one full year sooner. Of course, Tejada’s case did have many differences, too, so don’t take that as an indication of what’s to come, but it is certainly relevant information.
More importantly, Clark seems intent on finding a broader solution to this now obvious problem, instead of filing multiple grievances every time a team takes advantage of a CBA that is about to expire. “Its a challenging concern that doesn’t have a clear answer,” Clark told reporters at CSN Chicago. “But, the premise is still the same: How do we find a way to not have it be an issue?”
Kris Bryant’s handling of the situation continues to be impressive and seemingly beyond his years. He doesn’t consider himself a trailblazer or a white knight leading a charge, but instead as just another player doing what he can to find success in MLB. He’s simply doing what he needs to for his union, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Hopefully, this entire grievance is concluded soon, and we can all move on. But for now, there’s still a bit to be done, and we may not ultimately hear of a resolution for a long time.