Maikel Franco and Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs have a couple things in common. They're both among the best young players in the game and they share an agent in Scott Boras. Now, they're both at the forefront of what is likely to become an issue for the next collective bargaining agreement. Both are alleging that their respective teams kept them in the minors longer than they normally may have because of concerns over their service time. By delaying their arrival in the majors, the teams were able to manipulate the intent of the system to delay the players reaching free agency for another full season, the grievance alleges.
Bryant's case seems to be especially tough for the Cubs to deny. Last Spring, Bryant led the majors with nine spring training home runs, but was sent to Triple-A Iowa to open the season. He was recalled on April 17, which meant he would finish the season one day shy of the necessary 172 days that constitute a full season of major league service. Since players need six full seasons of major league service to file for free agency, Bryant will now be a day short of six seasons following the 2020 season, which means he will have to play the 2021 season for the Cubs prior to being eligible for free agency, thus giving the team an extra full season of his service.
Franco made his major league debut in September, 2014, but opened this past season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Unlike Bryant, Franco did not have a big spring training, batting just .200 (6-for-30) with no home runs and just one RBI to follow up on his September debut, during which he hit .179 in 16 games with the Phillies.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the issue of service time manipulation could become a hot topic in discussions for the next collective bargaining agreement [CBA]. The current CBA expires at the end of November, 2016. The Players Association believes that major league clubs haven't abided by the intention of the service time rules and have, instead, used them to force additional control over their ability to control players for longer periods of time. Bryant reportedly filed his grievance in April, while Franco's was filed sometime after that. Neither case has been heard by an arbitration panel yet.