Cubs' Kris Bryant Upset By Service Time Manipulation

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By 670 The Score
MESA, Ariz. (670 The Score) -- Four years after he was the victim of service time manipulation, Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant is standing up for the rights of fellow players who find or will find themselves in a similar situation.

In recent days, Bryant has criticized MLB's service time rules, which teams exploit by keeping their top prospects in the minor leagues for several weeks or more to start a new season. That prevents players from earning a full year of service in their initial season, thus delaying their free-agent clock by a year on the back end of their contract.

The Cubs utilized that approach in 2015, waiting until April 17 to call Bryant up after he had a monster spring. The same situation is expected to play out for White Sox outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., two of the game's top prospect who have proved with their minor league play that they're prepared for the big leagues.

Bryant called it an "awful" aspect of the system and called it a "loophole" in comments to the Athletic earlier this week. He then expanded upon it more Tuesday.

"I experienced this, so it would be a disservice if I didn't say anything," Bryant said. "I I have been through it.

"I wish everything I say about this could be a headline. Look, I totally get that we get paid millions of dollars to play this game. I am not out of touch with society. I know people work and struggle really hard to make a living. This is a system that is kind of broken right now. We want to see it get fixed. That is all. Then we wouldn't have to talk about these things. We could just talk about the play on the field. That is ultimately where this game should get to."

The issue is expected to be a hot topic in the next collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The current CBA expires in December 2021.

Bryant was dejected when he had to pack his locker and head back to Triple-A in March 2015 to start that season. The Cubs' move to delay his arrival ensured he's under team control through 2021 instead of 2020.

"It was exhausting for me," Bryant said. "We always have our end-of-the -year meetings after the 2014 season to find out what to work on and how to get better. I really took those to heart. I said I would put the work in because I had a great year and I felt I was very deserving to be in the big leagues. I didn't get the call-up, so I was sure it would be next year and I was ready for it. In any other job, if your boss says to do this and do that, you will get a promotion. When you don't get the promotion, you start questioning why it didn't happen. That happens in every job out there. I am sure there are people out there who can relate to that aspect. Again, we get millions of dollars to play this game, but that is an issue."

Bryant vowed to continue to fight for the union and players' rights.

"It's good for all of us to come together," he said of the service time issue. "We need to be united on this issue so we can move past this and hammer it out. We don't want this to be a problem in the future."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.