The MLBPA issued a statement on Monday in response to the Chicago Cubs reassigning third baseman Kris Bryant to the team's minor league camp.
The move allows the Cubs to push back Bryant's free agency to the end of the 2021 season if he stays in the minors at least 12 days. Bryant, 23, has hit .425 with nine home runs and 15 RBI in 14 spring training games.
The MLBPA's statement:
Today is a bad day for baseball. We all know that if Kris Bryant were a combination of the greatest players to play our great game, and perhaps he will be before it's all said and done, the Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both.
MLB players are granted free agency after six full seasons in the majors. One full season is 172 days of service time, so if Bryant stays in the minors for 12 days at the start of the season, he wouldn't be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.
Last week, Cubs president Theo Epstein spoke about the team's handling of Bryant, telling the Chicago Sun-Times any decision made about Bryant would be a "baseball decision."
"People are trying to make this about business. There are valid baseball reasons," Epstein said. "The process of developing a player, taking him from amateur to major league player and every step along the way, that’s a baseball process. Those are baseball decisions. And that’s what we’re doing here."
Bryant's agent, Scott Boras, said earlier in March that the Cubs planned to send his client to the minors to start the season and ripped the plan, telling USA Today the Cubs were "damaging the ethics and brand of Major League Baseball."
- Molly Geary