The big news in baseball this week (that wasn’t Astros-related, which I already talked about earlier) was Kris Bryant unsurprisingly losing his grievance case with the Chicago Cubs.
This has been an interesting thing to keep an eye on because Bryant represented a high-profile example of a player trying to stand up for himself after his club manipulated his service time. Of course, from our perspective, we pay some attention to Bryant because the Blue Jays did the same thing to their top prospect this season.
Bryant slashed a .325/.438/.661 line between Double- and Triple-A in 2014 and killed it for the Cubs in spring training but didn’t crack the team’s roster. He got kept down for about a week, mashed in seven games, got called up, and won Rookie of the Year. The Cubs got their extra service year and Bryant won’t be able to become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
Represented by the Players’ Association, Bryant’s case claimed that the Cubs manipulated the timing of his initial promotion in order to delay his qualification for free agency. I mean, that’s accurate, but there’s too much grey area and realities that are open to interpretation in order for Bryant to win this case over the organization as they can provide a whole wealth of reasons for taking their time with the promotion.
Ultimately, the Players’ Association agreed upon these service time rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement they reached with the League and while the teams might be acting in bad faith, what they’re doing isn’t outside the rules. That said, this is going to be a big issue in a few years when the CBA expires. Bryant and the MLBPA may have lost this battle, but they haven’t yet lost the war. This is just the beginning.
So, if there was any worry the Jays were going to lose the extra service year they gained by keeping Vlad down, Bryant losing his case should wipe that away. Hopefully, Vlad won’t need to file a grievance against the Jays because they lock him up to a long-term contract before free agency is anywhere close to a discussion.
This also means that Bryant’s time as a Cub could be over. Now that everyone knows of control Bryant has left, they know what they’d be acquiring if they trade for him and the Cubs can negotiate accordingly.
The Cubs could offer Bryant an extension at a fair market value that would ultimately compensate for that extra free agent year that started this whole situation, thus keeping their superstar player in Chicago for years to come, but that would make too much sense. Remember, just because they won a World Series, these are still the Cubs we’re talking about here. The much more likely scenario is the Cubs deal away Bryant to another contending team for a ransom of futures, spinning the never-ending wheel of trying to be cheap and young.
Speaking of star players who could be on the move, apparently, the Red Sox offered Mookie Betts a 10-year extension worth $300 million but his camp countered with a 12-year deal worth $420 million.
Lou says Mookie and the Sox have been off by $100M or more in the past 3 negotiations not including this past offseason pic.twitter.com/zfMt2n1Ske
— OMF (@OMFonWEEI) January 28, 2020
Both the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres have shown interest in trading for Betts and both teams have the means to get it done. The Padres have arguably the deepest farm system in baseball, a lot of payroll to work with, and they’ve shown a willingness to open their competitive window. The Dodgers have been uncharacteristically quiet this winter and a huge splash seems inevitable.
I wouldn’t blame the Red Sox for trying to get a big haul for Betts before he can head to free agency, but the rumour all winter has been that they’re trying to use him as a way to get out from under David Price’s contract, which is hilariously sad for a team that generally operates with reckless abandon financially.
Dealing Price and Betts together is ideal if you’re viewing this through the lens of a rival of the Red Sox, as we are. If a team is also taking on Price, it massively bogs down the prospect capital they’d have to return to Boston in order to acquire Betts. Boston loses their best player and they don’t get a big haul of good young talent in return? Sign me up.
Moving along, we have an actual trade involving our old pal Ben Cherington…
— Dbacks Snake News (@SnakeNewss) January 27, 2020
Starling Marte is a name we had talked about as a fit for the Blue Jays given their massive gap in centre field. Marte had a good season for the Pirates last year, slashing a .295/.342/.503 line and he’s under control for two more seasons.
The cost of acquisition for the Diamondbacks was a couple of high-upside prospects in shortstop Liover Peguero and pitcher Brennan Malone. For the sake of comparison, these two 19-year-old prospects ranked No. 7 and No. 8 in the Pirates’ system so it would have been like the Blue Jays giving up Orelvis Martinez and Adam Kloffenstein. That’s a pretty hefty price to pay for Marte who might not even remain in centre field.
If the Jays are looking for a centre fielder, they could possibly reach out to Cincinnati, as Jon Heyman suggests Nick Senzel might be available…
Reds are considering trading Nick Senzel. Have heard his name is out there on market.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 27, 2020
The Reds inked Nick Castellanos to a multi-year deal a few days ago, giving them an incredibly crowded outfield. Senzel, the former second-overall pick, had a pretty underwhelming rookie season last year, slashing a .256/.315/.427 line, but there’s obviously a lot of upside there. That said, it’s hard to imagine the Jays as realistic trade partners as the Reds are in win-now mode and would be dealing a player like Senzel for somebody who could help now, like Bryant, Betts, or Francisco Lindor, not a collection of Blue Jays prospects.