When we last heard about Kris Bryant’s grievance hearing, the report from Jon Heyman was that it could take arbitrator Mark Irvings “months” to come to a decision. Even at the bare minimum required to meet that standard, Bryant and the Cubs would be waiting until the end of the year to find out where they stood. Beyond that, the rest of MLB is waiting to find out whether a whole new precedent will be set.
No one wants such a long wait, nor does it appear as though Irvings will actually take that long to reach a conclusion in the matter. According to Patrick Mooney ($) of The Athletic, “[a] resolution should come by the winter meetings in the middle of December.” That’s not far off from Heyman’s initial report, but the timing makes a lot more sense for everyone involved.
Despite his frustration with his own situation and the loophole that allows teams to hold similarly talented players back for just a couple weeks in order to manipulate their service time, Bryant is not seeking vengeance. He’s happy in Chicago and his public proclamations of a good working relationship with Cubs execs has been echoed by those who have more off-the-record knowledge. Still, there’s an unavoidable business side to the game that Bryant is a part of.
Though not an entirely unique case, Bryant’s immediate impact and ascension to baseball’s elite ranks after being called up made him the poster child for service time manipulation. Many are mistakenly viewing Bryant as some sort of prima donna as a result of the grievance, but this situation has been hanging out there for the past four years and is only now being heard. That’s not on the player, it’s just the way things work.
The Cubs still have an opportunity to negotiate a long-term deal and all indications are that Bryant would prefer to stay in Chicago if it can be done. But again, professional baseball is a business above all else and the Cubs are not exempt from that. We may well get an idea of just how harsh that side of the game can be over the next few months.