One day from now, the Chicago Cubs will decide whether to harvest that seventh season they essentially stole from Kris Bryant.
One year from now, Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement will expire.
It’s not hard to see how the first date is inextricably tied to the second.
Bryant, who turns 29 next month, has a baseball résumé to die for: 2015 National League Rookie of the Year, 2016 NL MVP, 2016 World Series champion, the man who nearly stumbled over in joy before throwing the ball across the diamond to end the Cubs’ 108-year title drought.
Now, though, he’s just a line item on a balance sheet, and the grim example of how baseball, in its zeal for efficiency and saving dimes while raking in dollars, manages to screw over both its players and the game itself.
Bryant made a pro-rated $18.6 million in the shortened 2020 season and is due about the same money this season, his last in arbitration before free agency. After an All-Star campaign in 2019, Bryant was banged up and played poorly in pandemic ball, producing a career-worst .634 OPS in 34 games.