FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Tony Clark, the former Red Sox first baseman who became the first ex-player to become executive director of the Major League Players Association, was asked Sunday about speculation that agent Scott Boras might file a grievance on behalf of star prospect and client Kris Bryant if the Chicago Cubs do not place Bryant on their Opening Day roster.
The issue at stake is whether the Cubs might not promote Bryant to the big leagues at the start of the season despite his great spring because they want to control his service time. By delaying Bryant’s promotion by even two weeks, the club can prevent him from accruing a full year of service time, which would have the effect of delaying his free agency by a full season.
“Cubs ownership has a choice,” Boras said last week. “Are they going to present to their market that they are trying to win? [Cubs owner] Tom Ricketts said they were all about winning.”
The 23-year-old Bryant was ranked as one of the top prospects in baseball entering the season after a tremendous 2014 season in which he posted a slash line of .325/.438/.661 and hit 43 home runs, his 594 plate appearances divided between Double-A and Triple-A. Saturday, he hit two more home runs, including one off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, raising his total to eight, most of any player in exhibition play.
“I'll offer you this,’’ Clark said Sunday. "I think we’re all in agreement that it’s in everyone’s interest to have the best players play. The idea that there may be some consideration being made against some process that is in place that is going to be used to the detriment of having the best players on the field, that’s a concern. As far as I know, Kris is still in camp. As far as I know, he hit two more home runs yesterday, so we’ll see where this goes.
"But rest assured, as I’ve told everyone, whether it’s Kris or whether it’s any other young player in a situation that is similar, we pay attention to it. I think at the end of the day, particularly against the backdrop of the excitement any one player is generating, it’s always beneficial to put the best players on the field that give your team a chance to win. We’re assuming every team will make that decision at the end of camp.''