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MLBPA threatens litigation after Cubs demote Kris Bryant

Even the Major League Baseball Players Association is looking to get involved after Kris Bryant's demotion to the minors Monday.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After the Chicago Cubs re-assigned top prospect Kris Bryant to minor league camp, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement taking a direct stance against Bryant's demotion and threatened litigation in response.

Bryant's expected return to the minors has been a controversial topic of late, especially given how well the young slugger has performed this spring. By sending Bryant down to Triple-A for roughly two weeks to begin the season, the Cubs will be able to retain him for an extra year before he becomes a free agent.

Soon after the Cubs demoted Bryant, the MLBPA issued this statement:

Today is a bad day for baseball. I think we all know that even if Kris Bryant were a combination of the greatest players to play our game, and perhaps he will be before it's all said and done, the Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both.

The fact Bryant remains a minor leaguer—and therefore, not a member of the MLBPA—makes the union's words surprising. The MLBPA negotiated these terms into the league's current collective bargaining agreement (enabling teams to take advantage of just such a situation) and has rarely shown interest in dipping its feet into matters concerning minor league players. The Cubs are simply the latest team to manipulate the CBA's rules; considering that it will allow them to hang onto Bryant for an extra season down the road, they are smart to do so.

It's clear the current rules will be altered once the current CBA expires after the 2016 season, but the MLBPA's chances of achieving anything in litigation are highly doubtful.

That such a system prevents baseball's brightest talents from arriving in the majors as soon as possible is the real shame. Bryant's nine home runs this spring have merely whetted the appetites of Cubs fans who are anxious to see the club's hyped group of young prospects arrive in Chicago. Still, given his ability, Bryant shouldn't remain in Triple-A for long, and there's a good chance he'll be swatting homers against major league pitching in the near future.