Star third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant filed a grievance against the Cubs in regards to their decision to call him up to the majors for the first time April 17, 2015 – one day after he’d have been able to work toward a full year of service time. Many viewed it (and still do) as a clear act of service-time manipulation on the Cubs’ part. A decision on Bryant’s grievance could come by next month’s winter meetings, though it’s doubtful he’ll win, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests. Regardless, there aren’t any hard feelings between the two sides, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and agent Scott Boras indicate in Wittenmyer’s piece. But are the Cubs primed to extend Bryant, who has two expensive seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining? It doesn’t seem any recent long-term talks have occurred, but “Theo and I are talking all the time, and certainly when he and ownership want to discuss anything along those lines, our ears are open, no doubt,” Boras said. The Cubs’ most recent offer to Bryant came “long before” last year “and for much less” than the $200MM-plus the club was rumored to have put on the table, Wittenmyer writes.
Here’s more on the North Siders…
- While the Cubs aren’t in danger of losing Bryant yet, they are facing the departure of free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Although Castellanos starred for the Cubs after they acquired him from the Tigers at the July trade deadline, Chicago’s probably not going to re-sign him, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic observes (subscription link). Not only is Castellanos likely to end up earning more than the Cubs are willing to spend – MLBTR projects he’ll reel in a $58MM guarantee over four years – but their corner outfield mix may be too crowded to bring him back. The team already has Bryant, Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber among its option in left/right.
- If the Cubs were to retain Castellanos, “they would have to aggressively try to deal Schwarber,” Sharma posits. The Cubs regard them as similar players, according to Sharma, and for good reason. They’re both offensively adept corner outfielders who are arguably defensive question marks. However, the Cubs don’t believe they’d get an appealing enough return for Schwarber to trade him, and they’re reluctant to deal him after the excellent second half he posted in 2019, Sharma hears.
- More from Sharma, who relays that center fielder Albert Almora’s “a strong possibility” to stay with the Cubs because he lacks trade value. The free-agent market for center fielders is weak, and Almora has three affordable years of arbitration control left. Those factors, not to mention his age (26 in April), could boost his trade value. However, the production Almora recorded in 2019 may offset the positives. He hit .236/.371/.381 with a disastrous minus-0.7 fWAR across 363 plate appearances. Still, Chicago seems unwilling to give up on Almora via trade or non-tender.