The former NL MVP asked to be replaced as the Cubs’ union representative.

Somehow, Kris Bryant still plays for the Chicago Cubs. With the winter came flurries of trade rumors linking him to a list of teams including the Diamondbacks, Braves, and Phillies, but nothing materialized. Now that the team has a new manager in place in David Ross, however, there was a clear chance for a fresh start and a renewed commitment to the former NL MVP and World Series champ.

Unfortunately, the latest news from the North Side suggests that the star third baseman’s long-term future with the team could very much still be in doubt: He’s no longer the Cubbies’ player rep to the MLB Players Association.

Amid an offseason of trade rumors, Kris Bryant asked Ian Happ to replace him as the Chicago Cubs’ MLBPA representative

At a time in which the players’ union is front and center every single day as it engages in a crucial, spirited back-and-forth with the league and its owners over the scheduling and financial particulars of a 2020 MLB season, Bryant is stepping away. Insider Jesse Rogers noting that “he’s still involved” is a faint consolation.

All told, 2020 is Bryant’s final year of arbitration eligibility, with his long-awaited free agency set to hit the following year. If the Cubs decide that extending him with an all-world contract is untenable — they may very well have decided already — a trade out of town simply has to happen before the start of the 2021 season.

With Thursday’s union news, there’s every reason to believe that Bryant’s commitment to the Chicago project has redoubled since the height of the trade drama.

Reading tea leaves is a tricky business, and it may be that the Cubs are better off paying a pretty penny to keep the MVP around and remaining relevant than shipping him off and descending into and arduous rebuild. But as it stands, that reality is not exactly foreseeable.

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