Cubs did nothing 'nefarious,' plus more Kris Bryant's grievance outcome details

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Kris Bryant's grievance case was the story of the Cubs' offseason, but it ended in anti-climactic fashion. MLB arbitrator Mark Irvings heard the case last October but didn't rule on it (in the Cubs' favor) until February.

Irvings' decision wasn't announced publicly, instead reported by a handful of MLB insiders. Considering the case hung over the Cubs' head all winter, it was curious little was revealed behind why Irvings ruled the way he did.

That changed Tuesday, as the Associated Press released an exclusive story detailing Irvings' report. For the sake of brevity, here are some of the most important details as to why Bryant lost the case and will remain under team control through 2021:

-Irvings said there's no proof Cubs president Theo Epstein had any "nefarious" motives in deciding to demote Bryant to Triple-A to start the 2015 season. Irvings added "unforeseen events had forced Epstein's hand."

Opening Day third baseman Mike Olt (hairline fracture in right wrist) and backup Tommy La Stella (right oblique strain) each hit the injured list in April 2015. The Cubs promoted Bryant on April 17 and transferred Olt to the 60-day IL on April 21.

La Stella hit the IL on April 14 and suffered a setback during his rehab assignment - which began May 15. The Cubs went from being deep at third base to needing Bryant to play every day.

"[Epstein] made a decision based on what he concluded were the acute needs of the major league team, even though it posed a risk to the development of his top prospect (Bryant)," Irvings said in the report. "The debatable wisdom of that decision cannot be the grounds for finding that Epstein lacked a basis in fact or reason for keeping Bryant with Iowa until April 17."

-Irvings said it can't be ignored how Bryant amassed the worst fielding percentage of any third baseman in spring training. He made three errors in eight games (41 innings), good for an .813 fielding percentage.

Bryant's defense in 2015 spring training alone probably didn't warrant him starting the season in Triple-A. He hit .425/.477/1.175 with nine home runs in 40 spring at-bats.

That offensive performance is the basis for Bryant's and the MLB Players' Associations' argument the Cubs' demoted him to gain an extra year on his contract. This brings us to our next point, the most interesting of them all.

-Irvings highlighted how in Epstein's previous 14 seasons running a club's front office, not once did he promote a true rookie in September or have one make his 25-man, Opening Day roster.

"He had a philosophy of player development that he had followed at that point for 14 years as the person in ultimate control of baseball operations at two big-market baseball clubs," the report said.

"The association is correct that Bryant's minor league and spring training numbers were exceptional, even unprecedented, but it cannot be said that consistent adherence to a philosophy that had proven successful is evidence of bad faith motivation."

You may be rolling your eyes reading this, but both Bryant and the Cubs made good points in this case. Bryant played well enough to make the Opening Day roster in 2015. However, Epstein's track record with player development speaks for itself, and extreme circumstances led to Bryant's promotion.

Is it Opening Day yet?

Cubs did nothing 'nefarious,' plus more Kris Bryant's grievance outcome details originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago