Kris Bryant Still Considering Grievance as New Billboard Goes up at Wrigley

It’s not quite as much fun as their first Kris Bryant billboard, but the new Adidas ad outside Wrigley is a nice touch. It’s becoming very clear that whatever money Bryant isn’t yet getting from a contract extension will be made up for in national endorsements, whether that be the one shown above, Red Bull, or any number of potential suitors lining up to slap his mug on their products.

Then again, Bryant would be making cash registers ring with advertisers regardless of what the Cubs are paying him, and it’s that contract, or rather, the potential prevention of him earning a bigger one at the earliest possible date, that remains an issue. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote today that Bryant may still be thinking about filing a grievance over the way the Cubs handled his call-up.

After an 0-4 debut that included 3 strikeouts, Bryant has proven that he’s every bit the talent that hit 43 home runs in the minors last year. Since that start, Bryant has batted .429 (9-21) with 7 RBI and only 5 K’s against 7 walks. The kid is a veritable full-count machine and is seeing 4.24 pitches per plate appearance, which would put him 3rd among all MLB 3B’s if he qualified (Chase Headley – 4.37, Mike Olt – 4.25).

On the whole, Bryant is slashing .360/.515/.520, which gives him an OPS 1.035 that is better than all but 3 of his counterparts at 3rd (Matt Carpenter – 1.129, Nolan Arrenado – 1.038, Josh Donaldson – 1.035). Now consider that Bryant has yet to do what everyone has been hoping for since he came to Chicago, which is to blast magnificent moonshots into the bleachers.

Yes, Kris Bryant has an OPS greater than 1.000 without the benefit of a single home run. Among the qualified players with a 4-digit OPS, only Lorenzo Cain (2) has fewer than 3 dingers. My prediction is that Bryant launches one Saturday afternoon in Cincy, and that it will land in Section 104, Row O, between seats 7 and 11. Just a hunch.

So Bryant is playing perhaps even better than expected and is already instill fear in NL pitchers who have been reluctant to give him anything to hit. The Cubs are playing well and the atmosphere in the stands and in the clubhouse is better than it’s been in years. So why would the rising star still be mulling a grievance?

You wouldn’t know it from the ubiquitous smile and the outstanding performance, but Bryant may still harboring some residual animosity over being shipped to the minors for couple weeks. But rather than fighting for his own sake, it sounds as though he’s really more interested in clarifying the rules for those who will come after him.

The potential for success in a grievance hearing is still viewed as very questionable, not to mention that Bryant might be unwilling to cause a distraction or create any acrimony when things have started off so well for him in Chicago. But Heyman notes that Bryant himself doesn’t necessarily need to lend his blessing to any union proceedings.

…but the players union is still said to see a potential for filing a grievance over the timing of Bryant’s callup on Bryant’s behalf. There’s never been a grievance like this, but the union could possibly contend the timing of the callup was designed only to hinder Bryant’s service time and delay his free agency, and unrelated to any actual deficiency in Bryant’s game.

The union could technically file a case without Bryant’s approval, though presumably it wouldn’t do that. So union chief Tony Clark is said ready to reach out to Bryant soon to determine his mindset.

While Kris Bryant isn’t the first player to be held in the minors due to service time considerations, he’s certainly the most hyped of late and could be the one who moved the needle enough for the union to take a chance. So does Bryant want to be the guy who tries to set a precedent?

My guess is that if there is a grievance filed, it will be done without Kris Bryant as an active participant. I have no doubt that he’d have rather been up in the Bigs from the start of the season, but now that he’s here I find it hard to believe that he’d be willing to possibly jeopardize all the goodwill he’s already built up.

Besides, it seems to me that the risk involved in a legal proceeding mitigates the desire to push forward with anything at this juncture. And as former Cub Carlos Villanueva discussed recently, it might be best for the union to take the matter up when the two sides next sit down at the bargaining table.

My belief is that Kris Bryant, particularly in light of his performance thus far, can be just as much a catalyst for change via the natural timing of collective bargaining and it comes without the inherent acrimony of a grievance. I also believe in the hangin’ curveball, high fiber, good beer, and a few other things Crash Davis said.

In spite of that, I’m going to keep an eye on this little situation to see what, if anything develops. But only one eye, because I’m going to have to be on the lookout for his first home run, which will be headed my way Saturday afternoon in Cincy.


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