Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant lost his grievance to gain an extra year of service time, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The decision from MLB arbitrator Mark Irving ensured that Bryant won’t become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
It’s expected to create a further divide between the three-time All-Star, who was not granted a year’s worth of MLB service when he was called up in 2015 despite playing 151 games and accruing 650 plate appearances.
Chicago exploited a loophole to ensure Bryant would not be awarded that full first season, calling him up on Apr. 17 of that year. If the Cubs called him up on Apr. 16, he would have had 172 service days in the majors, which would have constituted as a full season.
Bryant initially filed the grievance following the 2015 season.
Had he won, Bryant would have become an unrestricted free agent following the 2020 season.
Now with two years of team control confirmed, Bryant’s possible desire to get out of Chicago would help line the Cubs’ wallets a bit better.
Throughout the offseason, Bryant’s name has popped up in a multitude of trade rumors.
Among those teams, the Philadelphia Phillies reportedly held talks with the Cubs with little progress made.
While they wait for top prospect Alec Bohm to make his way to the majors, the Phillies are penciling in Scott Kingery as their every-day third baseman for the start of 2020.
It doesn’t need to be said how much of an upgrade Bryant would be at the hot corner in Philadelphia.
He rebounded nicely from an injury-plagued 2018 to slash .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI in 147 games last year.
Adding Bryant would complete a total revamp of the Phillies’ infield, which moved Jean Segura to second after signing Didi Gregorius and cutting Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez.
It would also add another dangerous bat to the middle of a lineup that already features Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins to rival the Atlanta Braves’ core of Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman.
There has been little action from the New York teams — the Mets and Yankees — on this front, though ideas have constantly been floated for the Queens and Bronx sides to at least inquire.
The Yankees certainly have the pieces to pique the Cubs’ interest. Miguel Andujar has long been considered a trade option that still owns a high ceiling entering his second MLB season.
Having Bryant patrol the hot corner in the Bronx would add to the Yankees’ embarrassment of riches as their standing as World Series favorites would only increase.
As for the Mets, there is little chance they would execute such a deal. But by some anomaly that they were interested, they would have to lead with a promising bat such as JD Davis’ to make up for their lack of talent in the minors.
There could be hopes within the Cubs organization, however, that Bryant will want to remain in Chicago.
They hired former player and clubhouse favorite David Ross as their new manager to replace Joe Maddon — though a relatively quiet offseason will not help their chances to improve on a third-place finish in the NL Central last year.
While the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals will be in the conversation for the divisional title, the Cincinnati Reds are putting the finishing touches on an impressive offseason to throw their hats in the contending ring.
After picking up starting Trevor Bauer at the trade deadline, the Reds have brought on infielder Mike Moustakas, Japanese star Shogo Akiyama, and most recently, outfielder Nicholas Castellanos — who spent the stretch run with the Cubs.