SAN DIEGO — Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein is confident in the pending outcome of star third baseman Kris Bryant‘s service time grievance and doesn’t believe it’s impacting any trade discussions for the team.
“We’re fairly confident in what the outcome is going to be, but the timing is a bit frustrating,” Epstein said from the winter meetings on Monday. “It would be nice to know. We’re at the winter meetings, and there hasn’t been a ruling. I understand these things take time. It’s not going to be more than a couple weeks away, but it would be nice to have that final confirmation.”
Bryant, whose name has surfaced in trade rumors this offseason, contends he should have started the 2015 season with the big league club, allowing him to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Instead, the team sent him to the minors out of spring training, then brought him up 10 days later due to an injury, allowing them to keep him an extra year and making him a free agent after the 2021 season. The union filed a grievance on Bryant’s behalf with the sides finally presenting their case this offseason.
If the arbiter rules in his favor, Bryant would be granted free agency after next year — immensely affecting his trade value.
“We’re operating with what our understanding of what the likely outcome will be and moving forward that way,” Epstein said. “I don’t think we look for the whole service time structure to be upended in any one ruling.”
The Cubs have vowed to make changes to their team, which features four key players up for free agency at the same time, after the 2021 season. Epstein said he won’t force anything but admitted some turnover might be in order after missing the playoffs in 2019 and losing out on the division the year before.
“We can benefit from some change in certain areas,” Epstein said. “There are a lot of promising leads [potential trades] out there.”
A decision on the grievance isn’t expected until the New Year, a source told ESPN.