MLBPA Reacts to Kris Bryant Grievance Decision

A little less than a week after the long-awaited decision on Kris Bryant‘s grievance came down, the union for which he was fighting released a statement on the matter. It was about as bland and diplomatic as you’d expect, though MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark did throw down a gauntlet when it comes to the negotiation of the next collective bargaining agreement.

The Players Association disagrees with the decision issued today in the Kris Bryant service-time grievance. While we respect the finality of that decision, we will continue to pursue any and all measures that incentivize competition, discourage service-time manipulation and ensure clubs field their best players. We applaud Kris’ courage and determination in challenging the Cubs’ actions and seeing the grievance through to the end.

The union filed the grievance on Bryant’s behalf following the conclusion of the 2015 season — just pointing that out again for those who think it’s a recent thing — but it continued to linger undecided until last week. All the while, everyone involved expected the outcome arbitrator Mark Irvings eventually arrived at. So why did both sides allow it to carry on and cause such consternation? Though the actual answer is highly nuanced, the nutshell version is that the union wanted to be able to issue a statement like the one above.

Easily the most visible example of the service-time issue, Bryant was the perfect poster boy to help advance the interests of a union that did a piss-poor job of negotiation the last CBA. Then you’ve got MLB owners and execs, who, while still operating by the letter of the law they helped to craft, frequently use a bigger font and space it out further than originally intended. The players, Bryant in particular, are left sandwiched in between.

Contrary to one initial report, Bryant harbors no ill will toward the Cubs and isn’t unhappy in Chicago. Even if he possessed the capacity for vindictiveness, he’s too concerned with keeping his head down and prepping for the season. That concentration may be put to the test as trade rumors figure to continue throughout the season even if Bryant isn’t traded before spring training, but maybe it’ll actually end up forcing him to remain hyper-focused on his game.

As for the more far-reaching implications of the grievance, we could see teams working to avoid any obvious service-time issues over the next two seasons. That could mean seeing some young stars promoted earlier just to keep from adding any fuel to the fire. Or maybe they’ll be held down longer. Or maybe nothing will change at all.

Eat at Arby’s.

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