Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant filed a grievance against his club alleging that the team purposely kept him in the minor leagues in order to manipulate the NL Rookie of the Year's service time to delay future free agency. The grievance was made public Monday, however it was filed earlier in the season. News of the grievance was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
“We've known about this since May,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told ESPN.com. “We have a great relationship with Kris. We feel like we were in the right.”
While Bryant believed he deserved — and rightfully so — a roster spot with the Cubs coming out of spring training after leading the league with nine home runs, Chicago is adamant that the rookie needed more time in the minors to improve defensively. Bryant made his debut on April 17, after spending just eight days with the Cubs' Triple-A club.
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Eight days doesn't seem like much of a problem, however the timeframe of Bryant's debut means he will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2020 season if the Cubs would have added him to the MLB roster anytime before his actual debut.
It is uncertain what Bryant is seeking in damages from the Cubs as there is not a precedent for such a dispute, but Hoyer isn't worried about the proceedings.
“This is something that will be handled through due process,” Hoyer said. “It was filed in May, and to the best of my knowledge, it sits in the same place that it has been.”
Bryant went on to run away with the NL Rookie of the Year award, and was in good spirits during the Cubs' run through the playoffs, however, his agent, Scott Boras, was critical of the Cubs decision at the time.
“Cubs ownership has a choice,” Boras said earlier in the season. “Are they going to present to their market that they are trying to win? [Team owner and chairman] Tom Ricketts said they were all about winning.”
Bryant also voiced his own concerns about being sent to the minors to start the 2015 season.
“I think the spring I'm having so far is putting me in a pretty good position,” Bryant said in March. “We're told we can go out there and win a spot, and I really took that to heart at the beginning of spring. I came out here with a chip on my shoulder and wanted to play as hard as I can.”
Along with being crowned the best rookie in the National League, Bryant hit for a .275 average and a .369 OBP along with 26 home runs and 99 RBI in 2015.