The Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant have avoided arbitration: the former MVP will make $18.6 million in 2020. He made $12.9 million in 2019.
Bryant, 28, is coming off of another productive season in which he hit .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI across 634 plate appearances. He’s a three-time All-Star who won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2016 NL MVP Award.
He’s also in the middle of an ongoing service time grievance, the decision for which should come out soon. If he wins, this will be his last deal with the Cubs before he hits free agency. If he loses, he and the Cubs will go through this process again next year. And, of course, the Cubs have been at least considering the idea of trading Bryant, but can’t pull the trigger on that until they know if they have one or two more years of control over him.
The Cubs had reportedly at least made some overtures to Bryant regarding a long-term deal, but those talks were said to have gone nowhere. Part of that is, no doubt, due to the uncertainty regarding the grievance, which would change the leverage in negotiations. Part of it, also, may very well be that Bryant has lingering displeasure with the Cubs’ front office over the way in which they manipulated his service time back in 2015, which led to the grievance in the first place.
For now, though, 2020 is sorted.
MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.
Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.
After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.
Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.
Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.