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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sources - Kris Bryant loses grievance against Cubs, won’t be free agent until after 2021 season

I’m interested in getting details about the ruling.

The ruling, which sources said is going through its final reviews before being made public within a week, held that the Cubs did not run afoul of service-time rules when they called Bryant to the major leagues in April 17, 2015. He had spent the first two weeks of the season in Triple-A after a dominant spring-training performance. Had the Cubs summoned Bryant a day earlier, he would have ended the season with 172 days of service, or a full year.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:06 AM | 71 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cba, cubs, kris bryant

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   1. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:28 AM (#5920148)
While the Cubs' motives were pretty obvious, there is potentially a better case out there from the player's POV.

Former top 100 prospect Mike Olt, who also played 3B, posted a 66 OPS+ in 258 PAs in 2014. In 2015 (his age 26 season) the Cubs gave him the first shot at winning the starting 3B job. He played poorly and then went to the DL on April 17th - the day the Cubs called up Bryant (though retroactive to April 15). There is an interesting question about whether the Cubs should have been "required" to call Bryant up on the 16th if they knew on that date Olt's wrist was fractured.

Anyway, the Cubs certainly knew what they were doing with Bryant's service time but they also had an argument where they can make a not-completely-ridiculous-on-its-face baseball reason to do what they did. Since the ruling isn't published we don't know how much the arbitrator leaned on whether the Cubs have a reasonable alternative or just refused to re-examine their motives.

   2. Accent Shallow hits your blindside Posted: January 29, 2020 at 11:59 AM (#5920177)
Anyway, the Cubs certainly knew what they were doing with Bryant's service time but they also had an argument where they can make a not-completely-ridiculous-on-its-face baseball reason to do what they did. Since the ruling isn't published we don't know how much the arbitrator leaned on whether the Cubs have a reasonable alternative or just refused to re-examine their motives.


Concur. I'd be curious as to what the Cubs would have had to do to lose the grievance -- would it having taken Epstein or another Cubs official admitting to reporters that's why they called him up when they did?

I do believe that arbitrators will provide wide latitude as far as baseball-related reasons, which as you note, they did have, with the Olt injury.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 29, 2020 at 12:10 PM (#5920183)
I'd be curious as to what the Cubs would have had to do to lose the grievance -- would it having taken Epstein or another Cubs official admitting to reporters that's why they called him up when they did?
I would be surprised if even that would have led to Bryant winning. Unless I'm mistaken, there's nothing in the CBA or the player contract that mandates that a player be brought up "when he's ready" (if you could even determine a standard for that). The covenant of good faith and fair dealing that backstops (almost) every contract, to simplify, exists to make sure each party receives the benefits of the contract. It can't be used to create an additional benefit not originally contemplated in the contract.
   4. Tristram Posted: January 29, 2020 at 01:45 PM (#5920214)
Imagine the following situation: a prospect plays like a superstar through multiple years and minor league levels. But the owner of the major league club is sadistic and refuses to ever call him up or trade him. Eventually I suppose the player becomes a minor league free agent, but the owner has cost him a huge amount of potential salary by this time, while of course hurting his own club. Is there no recourse for the player before it gets to that point?
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 29, 2020 at 02:02 PM (#5920221)
Not under the current CBA (again, as I understand it - I haven't read the whole thing in detail). But as you note, the incentives pretty much make it a non-issue, except for these limited circumstances on the borderline from one service year to the next, which you're probably always going to have. There will always be some sort of line, and always an incentive for teams to hold players down until they're just on the other side of it.
   6. JRVJ Posted: January 29, 2020 at 02:06 PM (#5920224)
I want to read the ruling before hot taking this, because there's a non-zero chance that Bryant's side did not make a compelling argument and/or that the Cubs actually did make a compelling argument.
   7. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 29, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5920226)
Imagine the following situation: a prospect plays like a superstar through multiple years and minor league levels. But the owner of the major league club is sadistic and refuses to ever call him up or trade him. Eventually I suppose the player becomes a minor league free agent, but the owner has cost him a huge amount of potential salary by this time, while of course hurting his own club. Is there no recourse for the player before it gets to that point?

I'm not directly answering your question but just thinking through the player's situation.

First, there is the Rule 5 draft. It depends on the player's age when they sign but a player drafted and signed at age 18 would be eligible after five seasons of professional baseball. The teams can protect these players by adding them to the 40 man roster while still keeping them in the minors. Once they do that, there are now three option years where the player can be in the minor leagues without having to pass through waivers or accept the assignment.

So in this hypothetical, a team could keep an 18 year old signee for eight seasons without ever calling him up.
   8. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 29, 2020 at 02:14 PM (#5920231)
I want to read the ruling before hot taking this, because there's a non-zero chance that Bryant's side did not make a compelling argument and/or that the Cubs actually did make a compelling argument.

Considering how long this took - I think the initial hearing was in October*, then there were a couple of add'l deadlines for submitting add'l details with the last one sometime in mid-December - I have to assume Boras made an extremely compelling case because the publicly available facts seem to indicate pretty clearly the Cubs acted totally within their rights even if in the "moral" or "ethical" perspective it was more gray. From the start, virtually anyone who talked about this (besides Boras of course) seemed to think the end result was a foregone conclusion so I'd imagine the arbitrator strongly considered ruling in Bryant's favor. It would have set a pretty notable precedent; it already was likely to be a pretty big discussion point in the next CBA.

*And the grievance was initially filed way back in 2015.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 29, 2020 at 02:16 PM (#5920233)
I wouldn't read too much into the time. Even in federal court cases, judges often take months to hand down no-brainer rulings. Arbitrations, in my experience, can move even slower.
   10. frannyzoo Posted: January 29, 2020 at 03:20 PM (#5920246)
The focus is rightly on the penalty foul on Origi, but Firmino's ability to control the cross and make such a pass is sublime.
   11. jmurph Posted: January 29, 2020 at 03:30 PM (#5920253)
The focus is rightly on the penalty foul on Origi, but Firmino's ability to control the cross and make such a pass is sublime.

No wonder Bryant lost his case, the damned arbitrators are watching the wrong sport!
   12. Brian C Posted: January 29, 2020 at 04:57 PM (#5920321)
Sucks for Bryant but I can't imagine what a ruling for him would have looked like. The Cubs were obligated to call him up for ... reasons? How do you set a standard for that? What would the precedent have even been? Teams have to call up players when ... what, exactly?

I know players are upset with these kinds of shenanigans by front offices, and I don't blame them. But I don't see how to solve this problem without convincing owners to grant some sort of service-time benefits to minor leaguers, in order to incentivize call-ups. Because any effort to mandate call-ups for the purposes of service-time benefits to individual players seems doomed to fail.
   13. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 29, 2020 at 06:17 PM (#5920342)
I'm interested to see the ruling. How detailed an explanation of their reasoning can we expect to see the arbitrator(s?) give? There's been a fair amount of speculation as to the questions in #12 -- i.e. is there any scenario under which a player could win a case like this? If there was documentary evidence (i.e. emails from the GM) indicating that a player was held back solely to manipulate his service time clock, would that be enough? I realize that a strict reading of the CBA seems to indicate the team never has any obligation not to pull that crap, although there have been some theories as to why such an obligation exists.

Maybe the arbitrator's ruling will give us some insight into those questions. Does such a ruling establish any binding precedent going forward (i.e. if the ruling indicates circumstances under which the grievance would have succeeded).
   14. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: January 29, 2020 at 06:59 PM (#5920352)
The ruling, which sources said is going through its final reviews before being made public within a week,

So it's been held back to work on its defense?
   15. Walt Davis Posted: January 29, 2020 at 07:14 PM (#5920354)
There will always be some sort of line, and always an incentive for teams to hold players down until they're just on the other side of it.

Sure but you address that by reducing the incentives. Not that I expect to see anything remotely close to this, if you set the line at 150 service days, now a team has to keep him down for a full month. That would hurt more in terms of wins, get fans riled up as the guy rakes in the minors, more pressure from the press ... plus if the next Olt gets hurt after one week, the team has to come up with extra excuses. Even that would likely have unintended consquences -- once you've waited one month, you might was well wait another 5 weeks for the (likely) super-2 deadline to pass.

In Bryant's case, he should have been up no later than Aug 2014 (with the Cubs trading Valbuena at the deadline most likely). I know that on Gonfalon, "everybody" had already decided that was never going to happen and the Cubs' plan was to "Bryant" him. And of course it was so widely understood that's what they were up to, one of his sponsors even made a satirical commercial about it.

And yeah, if he can't win such a case, it's hard to see how anybody can unless there are emails, etc. ... and I don't know what sort of discovery process there is in an arb like this so it might require a leak to find such a thing. Without that, my case would have been (a) look at his awesome minors numbers; (b) look at the crappy Cubs of 2014 and the ridiculous 3B situation at start of 2015; (c) it was standard practice for players of Bryant's minors performance and age to be called up in (their equivalent of) 2014, after the super-2 and maybe not until Sept. (I had posts about this at the time.)

Everybody knew the Cubs were going to do this, everybody knows why the Cubs did this, everybody knows the "work on defense" excuse was nonsense ... but nobody can do anything about it because "baseball reasons" ... even when those "baseball reasons" are "to play Mike Olt."

But as noted, it will be hard for the MLBPA to win any major concession on this point, it might not be worth whatever they would have to give up and, as noted, there doesn't appear to be an ideal solution anyway. This can be handled somewhat informally by the arbitrators by leaning towards the salary request of such players (not that many get to the arb stage). If I was an agent, I'd certainly try to make the team make up some of the financial hit when negotiating a buyout/extension and possibly factor into an arb salary filing.
   16. dlf Posted: January 29, 2020 at 08:08 PM (#5920361)
I'm interested to see the ruling.


Most likely it won't be released. We got to see Alex Rodriguez's because he appelled it and had to attach a copy of the arbitrator's award. Usually the decisions are confidential.

How detailed an explanation of their reasoning can we expect to see the arbitrator(s?) give?


The CBA requires what is called a "reasoned award" where the arbitrator has to set out their factual findings and conclusions. Some types of arbitration, including baseball salary arbitration only require a conclusion (e.g. "The Panel finds for the Player.") but this one will likely run several pages.

If there was documentary evidence (i.e. emails from the GM) indicating that a player was held back solely to manipulate his service time clock, would that be enough?


Most likely. The current standard, set back in the early 1980s, was that if a team had a plausible baseball related reason for its decision, the arbitrator wouldn't look to see if it was the most likely reason. Everyone knows that Bryant was held back to manipulate service time, but the Cubs offered a plausible reason that didn't fail the laugh test. If they admitted it was service time, they'd lose.

I realize that a strict reading of the CBA seems to indicate the team never has any obligation not to pull that crap, although there have been some theories as to why such an obligation exists.


Among other things, there is an implied obligation of good faith. That would be enough if they said it was just to manipulate the system.

and I don't know what sort of discovery process there is in an arb like this


There is an Appendix to the CBA that sets out procedure for a hearing, but it is silent as to discovery. By not setting it out, that means that discovery is at the discretion of the arbitrator. We know that it was through discovery that the MLBPA got, for example, the Padres' internal communication about offering Steve Garvey a contract that was pretty key in the collusion cases in the 1980s.
   17. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: January 29, 2020 at 09:13 PM (#5920367)
I know players are upset with these kinds of shenanigans by front offices, and I don't blame them. But I don't see how to solve this problem without convincing owners to grant some sort of service-time benefits to minor leaguers, in order to incentivize call-ups.

It seems pretty simple to link free agency to years of professional service rather than days on a 25-man roster. If a 2013 college draftee is no longer yours after Year X regardless of when you call him up, there's no incentive to hold him down when he's murdering the high minors in 2014, let alone keep him down for 12 days in 2015.
   18. greenback slays lewks Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:02 PM (#5920372)
The most obvious solution is to let players buy MLB service time at 100+x% of the major league maximum salary. You can adjust that to something close to the major league maximum, but introducing the principle of optionality is the important component.
   19. Boxkutter Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:16 PM (#5920375)
A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club...

Put the same standards to qualify a player for a year of service time and it's no longer beneficial to keep a player down for any time.
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 29, 2020 at 11:50 PM (#5920383)
Among other things, there is an implied obligation of good faith. That would be enough if they said it was just to manipulate the system.
I don’t think it would. The covenant of good faith and fair dealing is a tool for interpreting the existing terms of a contract. It can’t be used to add an obligation that isn’t actually in the agreement, and as far as I know the CBA doesn’t bind teams to call up players at any particular time.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: January 30, 2020 at 02:08 AM (#5920392)
didn't fail the laugh test.

Humor was kind of a competitive sport in my family and among my friends so I actually laugh at very little, even when I find it funny. And this failed my laugh test. Granted, lawyers have no sense of humor so their laugh threshold might be even higher than mine.
   22. Moeball Posted: January 30, 2020 at 03:26 AM (#5920394)
They need to change the rules on this ASAP. This was shenanigans on the part of the Cubs in the most blatant way, and that they got away with it is disgusting.

The front office intentionally put a weaker team on the field to keep Bryant out and they knew they were doing so. It's not necessarily intentionally trying to actively lose games, but it's not really trying your best to win them, either. It stinks, but the current system encourages teams to engage in such behavior.

Charles Comiskey wasn't the last owner in Chicago with zero ethics.
   23. shoelesjoe Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:30 AM (#5920396)
The front office intentionally put a weaker team on the field to keep Bryant out and they knew they were doing so.


The Cubs put an inferior team on the field for two weeks in 2015 so that they could potentially put a superior team on the field for an entire season in 2021. If I'm an owner or GM I take that trade off every time. It sucks (a little bit) for the player, but I find it hard to feel too bad because he's going to be paid only $18 million for that extra year rather than the $25 million he might have made as a free agent.
   24. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 07:46 AM (#5920400)
I'm pretty sure the Cubs aren't going to be very good in 2021.
   25. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 30, 2020 at 09:27 AM (#5920415)
I'm pretty sure Kris Bryant is not going to be taking the field for the Cubs in 2021.
   26. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 30, 2020 at 09:32 AM (#5920416)
Not under the current CBA (again, as I understand it - I haven't read the whole thing in detail). But as you note, the incentives pretty much make it a non-issue, except for these limited circumstances on the borderline from one service year to the next, which you're probably always going to have. There will always be some sort of line, and always an incentive for teams to hold players down until they're just on the other side of it.

That's true but I'm not sure there's a worse place to draw the line. Letting teams get an extra year by waiting three weeks invites this behavior. (Of course, the players signed off on it.)
   27. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: January 30, 2020 at 09:39 AM (#5920419)
The Cubs put an inferior team on the field for two weeks in 2015 so that they could potentially put a superior team on the field for an entire season in 2021. If I'm an owner or GM or a fan I take that trade off every time. It sucks (a little bit) for the player, but I find it hard to feel too bad because he's going to be paid only $18 million for that extra year rather than the $25 million he might have made as a free agent.


I'm pretty sure Kris Bryant is not going to be taking the field for the Cubs in 2021.


Even so, it will still be a better team than it would have been had they brought Bryant up on opening day in 2015. That 7th year value does not go away just because Bryant may no longer be on the team.
   28. Ron J Posted: January 30, 2020 at 09:40 AM (#5920420)
There was an early arbitration ruling (from the 80s) that said in effect, you can't intentionally manipulate service time. But the same ruling made it clear (since the ruling went for the team) that the arbitrators were not going to second guess baseball related decisions.

This was 100% predictable and in fact pretty much everybody said so back when it was happening.

EDIT: Juan Bonilla iirc
   29. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 30, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5920432)
That's definitely true, Charles, but I wonder if the Cubs have poisoned the well on an extension with Bryant. Certainly up to this point it was probably very difficult to get a deal done with this issue hanging over them and the parties valuing the outcome differently.
   30. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: January 30, 2020 at 10:50 AM (#5920441)
What's with editing out the "or a fan" part in 23? You were totally right the first time. Playing shinangians with Bryant is in the fan's interests just like it's in the owner's interests.
   31. Ron J Posted: January 30, 2020 at 11:01 AM (#5920445)
#30 I'd go more nuanced. It's in the interests of fans of the team doing the shenanigans and who think long term. It's a variation of the "tank for …" common when there's a mega-prospect in the upcoming draft.

The casual fan of the team and the fan of baseball in general sees nothing positive in a team intentionally playing with less than their best -- even for a short period.
   32. Buck Coats Posted: January 30, 2020 at 12:09 PM (#5920492)
Yes, we all agree it's in the team's interests - that's why they need to change the rule! If it wasn't in their interests, teams wouldn't do it, and we wouldn't need to come up with a way to stop them.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: January 30, 2020 at 12:15 PM (#5920496)
There is no system that will be entirely fair, because players don't develop at the same rate or are ready for call-up at the same point during the season. One tied entirely to professional service rather than MLB time will penalize the guys who are ready right away vs. the slow developer, or it will reward the HS player over the college guy. There will always be guys who benefit and guys who don't by whatever system is in place.

   34. Ron J Posted: January 30, 2020 at 12:18 PM (#5920497)
#33 The only truly fair way to handle this is online polling. No way that can go wrong.
   35. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: January 30, 2020 at 12:21 PM (#5920498)
What's with editing out the "or a fan" part in 23? You were totally right the first time. Playing shinangians with Bryant is in the fan's interests just like it's in the owner's interests.
#23 didn't edit it out. I added it to his post to make my point. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
   36. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 02:11 PM (#5920543)
Even so, it will still be a better team than it would have been had they brought Bryant up on opening day in 2015. That 7th year value does not go away just because Bryant may no longer be on the team.

Yes the value is the Cubs got to keep him longer. So after this year they trade him for . . . something because there is one more year left on his contract. Of course the flipside is that the Cubs would probably have either traded him before this season, traded him during the season, or let him become a FA after the season. With of course a slight chance that he would have signed an extension. So the value difference is actually pretty small just like the difference to 2015 was pretty small.

But here is the thing. Last year the Cubs missed the playoffs and the fans are pissed. This year they haven't made any moves and the fans are pissed. They trade or let Bryant walk and the fans are going to be pissed. They miss the playoffs and the fans are going to be pissed. They miss the playoffs next year and the fans are going to be pissed. So what value did that 7th year give them as compared to having him for just 6 years?
   37. . Posted: January 30, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5920550)
You could pretty easily make a rule where if you're within, say, 20 days of the service time requirement; you would have met the service time requirement but for an option send to the minors immediately before your first day in the majors; and your performance numbers meet some relatively high threshold ... that you get credit for the 20 days. As always, the devil is in the details, but it's certainly doable.

   38. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5920556)
You will always have an issue because of a cutoff.

The best solution is a random drawing. Put every player that has service time between year X and year Y into a pool and say 65% of them get granted Free Agency or 85% get year 3 arbitration or whatever. That way teams don't have as great of an incentive to play service time games and would want to maximize playing time. The dark side would be possibly a team keeping a player down for a full year if for some reason they think something like year 1 he would be slightly below average but year 2 through 7 he would be above average.
   39. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 30, 2020 at 02:58 PM (#5920570)
So the value difference is actually pretty small just like the difference to 2015 was pretty small.

Absolutely not. If he's on the Cubs in 2021, the value is whatever he actually does on the field that year which will be measurable (likely somewhere between 2.3 and 7.9 fwar); if he's traded now/during this year/after this year, the value is arguably the return they got from him in trade (if he's traded before the end of the season, we'll never truly know how much return they would have gotten from him if he's a FA after this year; if they trade him after the season his value is exactly the return). The value they missed out from him in 10 games in 2015 is demonstrably small and very obviously less.

But here is the thing. Last year the Cubs missed the playoffs and the fans are pissed. This year they haven't made any moves and the fans are pissed. They trade or let Bryant walk and the fans are going to be pissed. They miss the playoffs and the fans are going to be pissed. They miss the playoffs next year and the fans are going to be pissed. So what value did that 7th year give them as compared to having him for just 6 years?

Are you saying that because the last year or so sucked the Cubs should have called him up anyway in 2015? Process still matters, even if the results suck.

Of course, there's still a chance the Cubs sign him to an extension (I wouldn't say those are great, but it's definitely non-zero) or don't trade him; it's also far from a guarantee they would have traded him already if he were called up at the beginning of 2015/FA end of this year. In fact, I'd argue there was no chance they would have traded him last offseason coming off the WC even knowing he would be a FA and virtually no chance they would have traded him during the 2019 season as they was still a good chance they'd make the playoffs at the trade deadline (as evidenced by them acquiring players and not trading any away).
   40. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 03:24 PM (#5920579)
As I stated in 2015 2021 is a long way away. You play to win today not 7 years down the road.


If he's traded the value of what they got in trade has to be compared to what they would have gotten if they had traded him before last year if 2020 would have been his last year.


Process matters but of course the issue is that people ignored back then and are ignoring it now that the Cubs intentionally made their club worse for part of the 2015 season. You can't sit there and say his sub played great or it didn't matter in 2015 and then say it doesn't matter what happens down the road because process. If process matters it matters from the beginning. The Cubs going into 2015 had just spent big bucks on FA and had their talent either coming up or becoming more established. I don't know of anybody that thought the Cubs would win almost 100 games but I think a good amount of people including the Cubs front office thought they would be competing for a playoff spot. Which meant every win should have been viewed as a premium. They sacrificed in 2015 with the view that it might lead to something valuable for 2021. Which is great but ignores the fact that in 2015 they had 6 years to worry about and make moves for 2021.
   41. Walt Davis Posted: January 30, 2020 at 04:08 PM (#5920590)
Which is great but ignores the fact that in 2015 they had 6 years to worry about and make moves for 2021

Or, since they've made essentially no moves the last two years, only 3 years to worry about moves for 2021. :-)

And again, under standard team behavior to that point, Bryant would have been up for half of 2014 so they would have botten 6.5 years out of him. So they also traded making the 2014 team better for holding the rights to Bryant for 2021. That looks more and more like a wash.
   42. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 04:17 PM (#5920594)
Well, I think the Cubs deciding not to use him in 2014 could be viewed as justifiable as they weren't going anywhere that year.
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 30, 2020 at 04:30 PM (#5920598)
They weren't going anywhere for the first 8 games of 2015 either.
   44. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 30, 2020 at 04:37 PM (#5920603)
Most likely it won't be released. We got to see Alex Rodriguez's because he appelled it and had to attach a copy of the arbitrator's award. Usually the decisions are confidential.

TFE says it will be made public within a week, so I'm holding out hope.
   45. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 04:37 PM (#5920604)
Um, they were going through the season. One in which they had hopes of contending. Whereas by the summer of 2014 they were in last place.
   46. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 30, 2020 at 04:44 PM (#5920607)

The Cubs put an inferior team on the field for two weeks in 2015 so that they could potentially put a superior team on the field for an entire season in 2021.

They put an inferior team on the field for two weeks in 2015 in order to save money in 2021.

It sucks (a little bit) for the player, but I find it hard to feel too bad because he's going to be paid only $18 million for that extra year rather than the $25 million he might have made as a free agent.

Well, from Bryant's standpoint the cost is both a lower salary in 2021 and the extra year of risk before he can hit the free agent market. He can sign a long-term deal with the Cubs to take some of that risk off the table but he'll probably be giving up more than just a few million to do so. And if he decides not to do so and somehow has a bad 2021, it could cost him tens of millions in his contract vis-a-vis what he might have gotten a year earlier. I know it's still hard to feel too bad for him, but it's a real cost.
   47. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 30, 2020 at 05:24 PM (#5920609)
They put an inferior team on the field for two weeks in 2015 in order to save money in 2021.
This statement is falsely premised on them certainly being able to sign Bryant to an extension or re-sign him when he hits FA.
   48. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 30, 2020 at 05:28 PM (#5920610)
They sacrificed in 2015 with the view that it might lead to something valuable for 2021. Which is great but ignores the fact that in 2015 they had 6 years to worry about and make moves for 2021.

They took a (correct) calculated gamble that ~8 games in 2015 (I'm guessing the initial plan wasn't to call him up that soon) <<<< ~162 games in 2021. Which is unquestionably correct, has always been correct, and will continue to be correct regardless of how the team did in 2015 or will do in 2020 and 2021. Had those ~8 games been the difference between missing or making the playoffs that season, we would probably be having the discussion (rather, would have had that discussion even more often than we've had this one) whether or not that risk was worth it. And I would argue it was, because sometimes the longshot does still pay out.
   49. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 30, 2020 at 05:32 PM (#5920611)
Um, they were going through the season. One in which they had hopes of contending.
This is quite a retcon. Going into 2015, the Cubs were seen as improving, but not at all contending. For example, Sports Illustrated picked them to finish 3rd in the division with an 82-80 record, 9 games behind the Cardinals. Coming off of a last-place finish, they would have been insane to sacrifice any future advantage for the sake of the first 8 games of the season.
   50. bfan Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:00 PM (#5920618)
Wait; so 8 games? If you assume over a course of the season that Bryant would have been 4 WAR better than the alternative (not just worth 4 WAR, but 4 WAR better), then the value of having him for 8 games was 0.2 WAR. That is it?
   51. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:06 PM (#5920620)
Theo and company thought they could contend and said so.
   52. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:09 PM (#5920622)
In 2015 having 2021 for Bryant was a really small benefit.
   53. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:09 PM (#5920623)
Theo and company thought they could contend and said so.
What else were they going to say? "Nah, we're probably gonna finish last again this year?"
   54. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:10 PM (#5920624)
In 2015 having 2021 for Bryant was a really small benefit.
That's just not true, and even if it were, it wouldn't be smaller than the first 8 games of 2015.
   55. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:16 PM (#5920627)
Are we talking a out Trump now? At some point you have to respond to what a team says and does. The Cubs signed Lester and brought up Bryant and kyle
   56. McCoy Posted: January 30, 2020 at 06:17 PM (#5920628)
It is true. The Cubs had 6 years to plan for 2021 and had 6 years of risks to deal with. The value of 2021 in 2015 was really low.
   57. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 30, 2020 at 10:03 PM (#5920671)
Repeating it over and over doesn't make it true. If you want to try and discount future seasons, no amount of discounting will ever get to you 8 games in 2015 as worth more than 162 in 2021.

The whole point of running a team is to consider both the current and the future; in fact, one of the biggest reasons the Cubs have disappointed the last couple of years is because of moves the Cubs made where they valued the present over the future. Part of planning for 2021 was making sure they still controlled Bryant.
   58. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: January 30, 2020 at 11:53 PM (#5920689)
One tied entirely to professional service rather than MLB time will penalize the guys who are ready right away vs. the slow developer

Couldn't disagree more.

Say such a system is in place for Bryant's entire career. He gets called up mid-2014 and consequently starts making the minimum earlier, gets to arbitration earlier, and makes late-arbitration money earlier. This is an unassailable benefit to him. What skin is it off his nose if he becomes a free agent the same year as Jeff McNeil, called up mid-2018? $65 million and four extra years living the dream instead of riding buses don't sufficiently differentiate Bryant's experience? Fairness requires McNeil be tied down for an additional four years?

or it will reward the HS player over the college guy.

Different lengths of control to account for the different points in their development, just like Rule 5.
   59. McCoy Posted: January 31, 2020 at 06:34 AM (#5920707)
The same can be said for you. They had 6 years to plan for 2021 and it looks like even with those 6 years 2021 is going to be a disaster.
   60. Red Voodooin Posted: January 31, 2020 at 10:53 AM (#5920748)
and it looks like even with those 6 years 2021 is going to be a disaster.


This is more than just a little premature...
   61. . Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:00 PM (#5920768)
This is actually a very interesting and important point in proper analysis.

Even if we had perfect foresight -- we don't have anything close, but let's go with it -- the 2015 value of one 2021 win is not one win. Unlike with performance risk, we don't have a direct analogy to the financial world, because there's no such thing as "inflation" in baseball but there still needs to be a present value discount of some kind, if for no more than the different time values. Plus we have far more insight and transparency into the value of marginal wins today than we do six years from now. Which is to say, we know far better today whether that extra three wins will be the difference between 87 and 90 than we do six years from now.

So the task at hand is to put the right present value discount on future wins.
   62. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5920777)

This statement is falsely premised on them certainly being able to sign Bryant to an extension or re-sign him when he hits FA.

Well, if they didn't re-sign him they still could have spent the money elsewhere. Saying they did it to put a better team on the field, when the Cubs/Ricketts are not under any real financial constraints, is internalizing the attitude that prioritizes the owner's wallet over the quality of the team. I don't know why we as fans (well, you guys as fans - I'm not a Cubs fan) would take that perspective.
   63. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:56 PM (#5920786)
is internalizing the attitude that prioritizes the owner's wallet over the quality of the team. I don't know why we as fans (well, you guys as fans - I'm not a Cubs fan) would take that perspective.
It's more like accepting the reality that teams, even the Cubs, do not and will never have unlimited budgets.
   64. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 31, 2020 at 01:19 PM (#5920795)
So the task at hand is to put the right present value discount on future wins.

Agreed. I just happen to think that a 2021 win (or more accurately, ~4WAR for Bryant that year) is always going to be greater than the value he'd provide in the 8 games in 2015 (~0.2WAR, if that).

They had 6 years to plan for 2021 and it looks like even with those 6 years 2021 is going to be a disaster.

Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it would absoultely be worse in 2021 if the Cubs didn't control his rights for that year.
   65. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 31, 2020 at 02:20 PM (#5920823)

It's more like accepting the reality that teams, even the Cubs, do not and will never have unlimited budgets.

Nobody's talking about unlimited budgets. Like I said, the fact that you frame it this way indicates that you've internalized ownership's narrative.
   66. McCoy Posted: January 31, 2020 at 02:29 PM (#5920828)
Heading into 2015 Theo & Co believed they were going to be in contention and indeed 85 wins would have nabbed them the second WC spot. A number of wins right around what most people would have pegged the Cubs achieving that season. The difference between making the playoffs and not for the current season is huge and a single win is worth much much more than an unknown win 7 years later. The difference between Bryant in 2015 and what they had in those 8 games came out to about half a win. The difference between a projection of Bryant in 2021 and a projection of Anon McNonamey at 3B back in 2015 could not have resulted in a large WAR difference. Be generous and say the difference in projections was 2 wins. So we're comparing about half a win in the current season, a season in which at the time of the decision they believed every win was going to be important, vs about 2 wins 7 years later. The best case you can make for keeping him down is that it's a wash.
   67. . Posted: January 31, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5920829)
Yeah, McCoy is making the marginal wins point. We have far more transparency into the value of a marginal win today than we do six years from now because we have a far better dataset from which to estimate our baseline win level. That puts a big discount on the future. And if he said, your baseline projection for the present season is "right on the cusp of the playoffs, it could go either way," that's reason to put an even bigger discount on the future.
   68. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 31, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5920830)
Nobody's talking about unlimited budgets.
Eh?

the Cubs/Ricketts are not under any real financial constraints
Yes, I realize you didn't literally mean "no financial constraints," but I didn't literally mean no limit whatsoever to the budget. I think the two statements are pretty parallel.
   69. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 31, 2020 at 03:11 PM (#5920845)
The Cubs currently have the 4th highest payroll for 2020, and if they had to pay Bryant (or someone else to replace Bryant's production) an extra $5-7 million, they'd still be the 4th highest in the game. I assume the analysis in 2021 will be similar. It's completely within the Ricketts' ability to do so. We're not talking about a $300 million payroll here.
   70. QLE Posted: February 05, 2020 at 01:07 AM (#5921741)
   71. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 05, 2020 at 05:46 AM (#5921755)

Thanks QLE. Hard to know without reading the ruling itself, but it sounds like the arbitrator said (a) there is a good faith obligation inherent in the CBA, but (b) I’m not going to comment on whether that prohibits teams from manipulating service time, and (c) Bryant hasn’t proven that’s what the Cubs were doing, anyway. So unless more details emerge it seems we’re back where we started.

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