By Thomas Gibbons
We have a decision.
As reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN.com Wednesday morning, Kris Bryant lost his grievance and will not become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
Now, we await what the Cubs will decide to do with Bryant. With this ruling settled, his trade value cannot be ignored. Two years of team control over one was what the Cubs and possible trade suitors were waiting on.
Did Bryant have any chance of winning this case? From Jesse Rogers’ latest article on ESPN:
Slim to none. The language in the collective bargaining agreement wasn’t going to be rewritten by an arbiter when it can be changed with input from both sides after the 2021 season. That’s not to say he had no chance, but the grievance proved a point more than anything: The 172 days (out of 183) that are required to get a full year of time in the majors have made it too easy for teams to hold a player down in the minors for 10 days before beginning his major league career.
Shortly after the decision was reported, news broke that Bryant felt under-appreciated and believed the Cubs lied during the hearing. That was quickly put down by a person from the Bryant camp saying he is fine and has no ill will whatsoever.
Read into it what you want but I’ll trust Bryant’s camp here.
Now, the Cubs have a big decision on their hands. They have been fairly quite this offseason and it is no secret this decision possibly hindered on them making major moves. After missing the playoffs and moving on from Joe Maddon, fans were expecting a lot more spending and roster movement. It has not happened yet. Also, the Cubs have been unable to lock up any of their core players to long-term deals, particularly Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. With three weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, this will be the biggest part of the Cubs offseason in terms of potential news and roster movement if there are deals to be made.
Are there any rumors out there? There have been plenty for months but one intriguing rumor surfaced Wednesday. Rogers of ESPN 1000 joined David Kaplan and said the Cubs and Rockies have recently discussed a 1 for 1 deal: Bryant for Nolan Arenado.
This deal would be a win-win for the Cubs. First, the time is now to get value back for Bryant. This grievance locked that up. As for the Rockies, it sheds Arenado’s contract. And this is the biggest motivator for the Rockies. Another part of Rogers report was that the Rockies would even retain some salary in the deal. ” “That’s how much they need to get rid of Arenado, said Rogers. He wants out.”
Pretty big words right there.
It seems like a crazy rumor right now but it could happen. But if not for Arenado, where else could Bryant be dealt? The Atlanta Braves have been connected to Bryant in the past and they could put together a pretty good package centered around young pitching, the Cubs biggest need.
Do I want the Cubs to trade Bryant? I have had this internal fight for months. Bryant has been a cornerstone to the Cubs since his debut since 2015. He was deemed the player who would help bring the Cubs a championship. It would happen and he also brought home an NL MVP trophy in 2016. It was the start of what could be a brilliant career. Then injuries shortened his success in 2018 and questions arose. Yet, Bryant hit 31 home runs last season and earned a trip back to the All-Star game. So what is the big deal? The Cubs have offered Bryant a long-term contract in the past and he refused. If there is no deal to be agreed upon, the Cubs best interest would be to get something for him.
If the Cubs and Bryant have not agreed to a deal by now, I do not think one is going to happen, hence motivation to move him.
Time will tell…