Rozner: Math a big factor in Kris Bryant losing Cubs grievance

  • Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant will remain under team control for two seasons after it was announced Wednesday he lost his grievance.

    Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant will remain under team control for two seasons after it was announced Wednesday he lost his grievance. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Kris Bryant greets fans on opening night of the Cubs Convention a couple weeks ago at Sheraton Grand in Chicago.

    Kris Bryant greets fans on opening night of the Cubs Convention a couple weeks ago at Sheraton Grand in Chicago. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

Updated 1/29/2020 1:56 PM

Yes, after all of the discussion, seven remains more than six.

Seldom has there been a more shocking pronouncement.


Kris Bryant lost his grievance against the Cubs, it was revealed Wednesday, one in which he and his representatives challenged the Cubs' legal ability to keep him in the minors for about two weeks in 2015, thus delaying his free agency by a season.

So he will be here for seven seasons instead of six -- unless the Cubs trade him first.

Players earn free agency after six full years in the big leagues. We know this because it's in the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement, the one players and the union sign and operate under each and every year.

It's a not a "loophole," as many have tried to suggest. Bryant was held back for two weeks and fell short of the 172 days of service time necessary to collect a full season in the big leagues.

It's right there in black and white. It says 172 days. That's not a "loophole." That's collectively bargained.

The players agree to it each time the union signs a new CBA.

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So those who argue in favor of the players, saying this "loophole" must be removed, have not yet explained how it will be removed in the next CBA.

The owners aren't going to agree to shorten free agency from six years to five, so that will remain the same.

Want to change it from 172 to days to 170? To 160? To 150?

Go ahead. Management will simply wait to bring a player to the big leagues.

Look, I'm a players' guy. Always have been. I believe in the free market. It's a short career and here's hoping players make giant piles of cash.

No one complains about actors getting $25 million for a movie, so the belief here is you shouldn't begrudge an entertaining athlete breaking the bank.


But using seven as more than six is the one chance owners have to maintain team control until players start pounding them in arbitration after three years, or slightly less if they reach Super-2 status.

And after six full seasons -- yes, full seasons -- they are free to shop their wares to the highest bidder, if they so choose.

It is simply smart business for management to take advantage of this opportunity for the extra season.

It's been done in baseball for decades and it's not going to stop. It's just that agents and experts are now complaining about it.

There's not a single person in baseball who thought the Cubs were going to lose this argument, but it did prevent the Cubs from moving along with their winter plans, which included shopping Bryant.

They couldn't possibly deal him until the acquiring team knew whether they were getting one year or two of team control.

That's not to say that Bryant will be dealt. The Cubs aren't in a hurry to move him, but if they can't get him signed long term then this is the time to make that move, while they can maximize his value.

With every day that goes by once the 2020 season begins, Bryant's value in a trade comes down, so this is something the Cubs need to do as soon as possible if they're going to do it.

As far how much it hurt the Cubs this winter, no doubt it hurt as third basemen were shopped and free agents were signed.

So if that was the goal, the grievance did have an impact on how they planned for the 2020 season, and you might now see some movement on the North Side.

Is Bryant angry about what the Cubs did? Perhaps. If this is the reason he doesn't re-sign in Chicago, so be it. But he should know this tactic has been used against Cubs players -- and all players -- for decades and rarely do any cry about it.

It's big business and that door swings both ways. Welcome to the majors.

As for the Cubs possibly losing the grievance, it was never going to happen and everyone involved knew it from the time it was filed.

It was frivolous at best.

So next you will hear the national baseball media crying about the "loophole" again and how it must be fixed.

And no one will have any idea how to do it, because the moment you move free agency from five years plus 172 days, to five years and, say, 160 days, teams are going to wait until Day 159 to bring up a monster prospect.

It's not that complicated, unless math is a serious problem for you.

If you've been visiting this space for the last couple decades, at least you already knew for certain that -- say it with me now -- seven remains one more than six.

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