LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

NASHVILLE, TENN. — This past spring, the biggest buzz for the Phillies was at what point would one of their top prospects, Maikel Franco, be called up to Philadelphia.

It wasn't a matter of if, but when.

Franco had debuted in September 2014 but began the 2015 season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Following Cody Asche's demotion in May, the wait was over. Franco was going to the big leagues for good.

But now, Franco, and the Cubs' Kris Bryant, have filed grievances against their respective teams alleging the Phillies and Cubs kept the players in the minor leagues longer then they should have for the sole purpose of delaying which year they become a free agent, according to Yahoo Sports.

"While neither case has yet to reach an arbitration panel, according to sources, the grievances indicate that players believe teams have not abided by the intention of service-time rules and operated in bad faith," Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan wrote.

Franco's case is regarding the amount of time between Asche's demotion to Triple-A and Franco's call-up. Asche, the Phillies' everyday third baseman at the time, was sent to the IronPigs May 12 and Franco was not promoted until May 15. Franco finished 2015 with 170 days of service in the major leagues, two shy of the 172 that constitutes a full year of service.

By not reaching a full year of service this season, the point Franco reaches free agency, assuming he remains in the majors until then, was pushed from 2020 to 2021. The same is true for Bryant.

If the cases reach an arbitration panel and they rule in Bryant or Franco's favor, the players would likely reach free agency a year earlier, in 2020. At the rate each is going, Bryant was voted the National League Rookie of the Year this past season and Franco likely would have been a candidate had he stayed healthy, reaching free agency a year sooner would means millions of dollars extra in salary.

Franco finished the year hitting .280 with 50 RBIs and 14 home runs in 80 games. The 23-year-old missed almost two months with a fractured left wrist but that did not affect his service time.

"Sports is a business, and both sides are going to make the decisions they think suit their business aspirations and what they're trying to accomplish," Ryan Royster, Franco's agent, told Yahoo Sports. "We want to see things geared toward winning, and this isn't just the Phillies. It's all teams. The fans deserve to see the best product on the field, and the players deserve the best team surrounding them so they can win."

The Phillies declined to comment.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires in less than a year — Dec. 1, 2016 — and the issue should be at the center of attention as Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association begin discussing a new CBA.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE