Kris Bryant's future with the Chicago Cubs is suddenly clearer and yet still marked by questions.
Remember the grievance Bryant filed in 2015, in which he and agent Scott Boras alleged that the Cubs had improperly manipulated his service time? According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, that matter has finally been resolved with a ruling in favor of the Cubs.
Had Bryant been the beneficiary of the ruling, he would have been eligible for free agency after this season. But as has been expected all along, the 28-year-old third baseman will now have to wait until after 2021 to hit the open market.
So, what happens next? Are the 2016 National League MVP and the Cubs now on bad terms? Will the rumors circling around Bryant actually lead to a trade? And if yes, to whom and for what?
Let's address these questions (and more) one at a time.
Where Does Bryant's Relationship with the Cubs Stand Now?
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From the outside looking in, one can't help but wonder how Bryant really feels about his situation.
He was the Cubs' No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft, and he'd made himself into a consensus top-five prospect by 2015. By going off for a 1.652 OPS and nine home runs that spring, he only made it more obvious that he belonged in Chicago as soon as possible.
The Cubs nonetheless sent him down to Triple-A for the start of the '15 campaign, and they ultimately waited to promote him until one day after he had a shot at accruing a full season of service time in the majors. The delay ostensibly had to do with his defense, but the Cubs' real intention was clearly to stretch their control over Bryant from six years to seven.