Epstein: 'No Hard Feelings' Between Bryant, Cubs

Kris Bryant lost a grievance against the team and has landed in trade rumors.

670 The Score Staff
February 11, 2020 - 2:56 pm
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(670 The Score) There are "no hard feelings" between star third baseman Kris Bryant and the Cubs organization after he lost a service time grievance against the team and as he continues to land in trade speculation this offseason, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Tuesday.

Epstein reached out to Bryant soon after an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Cubs and against Bryant, who was seeking to be awarded an extra year of service time that would've made him a free agent after 2020. Instead, he remains under contract control through 2021.

"Once the grievance was over, I just wanted to reach out and see if he wanted to connect on anything," Epstein said at a press conference to open spring training in Mesa, Ariz. "All along, my view of the grievance has been that it was a byproduct of the business elements of the game, that it was something that wasn't our process but something that we would participate in as requested and be respectful of. I admire players who at the appropriate time are willing to stand up and assert their rights. I don't ever want players who bite their tongue and feel like they got cheated or feel like their rights were infringed upon. A player's career is a precious thing, and we encourage guys to stand up for themselves."

Epstein also weighed in on the trade rumors surrounding Bryant, indicating he thought the speculation was a bit overblown -- though that didn't surprise him.

"Yeah, I think so, but it's not to cast blame on you guys (the media)," Epstein said. "Any time a great player's name is out there at all that so many other teams want or teams are open to moving him -- we said we were open to moving anybody -- then it's going to take on a life of its own. Unfortunately, it’s just part of the business that players have to learn to deal with, especially as they move closer to free agency and especially if they’re not on a long-term contract. They’re going to have to deal with that. I’ve had a good text exchange with KB checking in here recently. Whether it’s trade rumors or the grievance matter, there are no hard feelings on either side. He’s excited to be reporting to camp here toward the end of this week. He’s excited for the 2020 season."

After a disappointing 84-win season, the Cubs are entering spring training with little roster movement. Their biggest additions of the offseason were the low-profile signings of outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and reliever Jeremy Jeffress. 

Epstein admitted he thought the Cubs would have more roster turnover at this point, but the trades that the team sought didn't materialize.

"We were at a point where we were open to considering trades with any of our players that made our team better and our organization better," Epstein said. "It turned out to be a bit of a slow trade market. There was obviously a big (Mookie Betts) trade this week, but beyond that, it had been a pretty robust free-agent market and slower-moving trade market. Again, I think the reason we weren't active with trades is just the desire to not force change and we didn't find deals that we thought made us better at this point or we haven't to this point."

And could there still be a high-profile trade before the regular season opens on March 26?

"I'm sure there will be some chatter throughout the industry, but the focus certainly shifts to on the field," Epstein said.