Kris Bryant and the Cubs could be heading for a hearing over service time. Bryant has the strong support of the Major League Baseball Players Association in his service time controversy against the team. The MLBPA filed a grievance against the Cubs, who have allegedly manipulated his service time that currently prevents him from becoming eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. The Cubs knew about the grievance as early as May, but the news didn’t become public until Monday.
Bryant was sent to the minors despite batting .425 with nine home runs in spring training. He wasn’t promoted to the majors until April 17th following a wrist injury suffered by Mike Olt. If he had been promoted at least one day earlier, he would have reached the minimum days in the majors – 172 – to be credited with a full year of service.
Of course we all know, Kris went on to bat .275 with 26 home runs and helped carry the Cubs to their first playoff berth since 2008. He also won National League Rookie of the Year honors.
The MLBPA felt extremely suspicious of the Cubs’ intentions by not promoting Bryant until one day after he would have achieved the minimum amount of days to be credited for a full year of service. Especially with his spring training and regular season performances. “Obviously, we feel we’re in the right,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “It’s something that will be handled with due process.”
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco has also filed a grievance against his team. Bryant finished his rookie season with 171 days of service time; Franco finished his with 170 days. The issue of alleged service time manipulation is expected to be a major issue as Major League Baseball and the MLBPA negotiate a new contract before their current deal expires on December 1st, 2016.
Theo Epstein, Jon Lester, David Ross, and now John Lackey are all back on the same team. The Cubs landed the veteran pitcher on a two year deal worth close to $32 million. Lackey’s season last year with the Cardinals wasn’t bad. His stat line was, 2.77 ERA in 33 starts, throwing 218 innings allowing 211 hits and only 53 walks. With the signing of Lackey the Cubs now have three of the top pitchers in all of baseball based on ERA.
Lackey has been apart of two World Series teams, the 2002 Angels and the 2013 Boston Red Sox. David Ross said on Friday, “One of the best competitors I’ve ever been around, and I’m not just saying that. He’s going to bring a toughness to our team that is going to make everybody better.” Lester calls Lackey his brother and hopefully no beer and chicken will be consumed by them in the clubhouse this upcoming season! John Lackey will most likely be in the third spot behind ace Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel will occupy the fourth and fifth spots unless the Cubs make more moves in the coming week at the Winter Meetings.
Heading into the All-Star break last season, everyone was wondering which team David Price would land on. Everyone in Chicago thought it would be the Cubs, well he headed north of the border. Price was a Blue Jay and helped lead the team to the playoffs.
Then came the offseason and the rumors were heating up about Price reuniting with his old skipper Joe Maddon. Both sides seemed to have mutual interest in each other until Price was offered a seven year deal worth $217 million from the Boston Red Sox. The AL Cy Young Runner up, who is 30, said yesterday at his introduction press conference, “I think I was just saving all my postseason wins for the Red Sox,” he is 0-7 with a 5.27 career ERA in eight career postseason starts. “I know good things are going to happen to me in October. That just hasn’t been the case thus far. I know I can throw the ball as well in October as I do in the regular season. That time is coming for me, and hopefully, it’s in 2016.”
It’s a good regular season pickup for Boston but when it comes time for the playoffs, which hasn’t happened in a while for the club, hopefully Price can deliver for his new team.