Remember that Kris Bryant and the MLBPA filed a grievance over the Cubs’ service time manipulation after the 2015 season? It finally got to the arbitrator after this season, and said arbitrator has ruled in the Cubs’ favor.
If he’d have won, he’d have become a free agent after this coming season. Instead it will be after the 2021 season. Obviously this also impacts his trade value—he is now under team control for two more years, and he’s been rumored to be on the trading block all offseason.
It’s no surprise that he lost even though his was about as clear cut a case of service time manipulation as one will see. He played extremely well in spring ball before his rookie season. He was very clearly one of the Cubs’ best players, yet they sent him back to AAA Iowa to start the 2015 season. Two weeks later, they called him up. For a full year of service time, a player has to be on the big league roster 172 days. He was on the Cubs for 171 days in 2015. If you think that him missing the cutoff by one day was coincidence, then I’d like to sell you some property about 10 miles east of Miami.
With the CBA to be renegotiated, expect the MLBPA to try get service time rules changed. They’ve never previously been very interested in the plight of minor leaguers or rookies, but this is affecting something they do care about: a prominent veteran getting delayed in getting his big free agent payday.
Also expect teams to, in general, manipulate service time with impunity—status quo there.