According to David Kaplan of ESPN 1000, the Chicago Cubs recently offered Kris Bryant a contract extension ‘well north of $200 million’ – which he declined.
As most of the baseball world turns its attention to the League Championship Series, Chicago Cubs fans got a early taste of the offseason, courtesy of an ESPN 1000 report. If the report is, indeed, accurate, Cubs star Kris Bryant turned down a contract extension offer in the ‘last several months’.
Now, we don’t know any details – namely, how many years such an extension would cover, which is really the make-or-break in something like this. $200 million surely isn’t anything to sneeze at – but there’s a big difference between a 10-year, $200 million offer and a six or seven-year, $200 million offer.
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The highest AAV for a position player in Major League Baseball? Miguel Cabrera, coming in at $31 million annually. He’s followed by Yoenis Cespedes at $27.5 million. You’d have to think someone like Bryant would demand that type of money, as well.
He may very well want to see what type of money Bryce Harper and Manny Machado net in free agency this winter. They both hit the open market at age 25 – a far cry from the 30 Bryant will be when he tests the waters down the road. But, regardless, it gives him a bit of a measuring stick in any potential future contract discussions with the Cubs.
Bryant and his agent Scott Boras value his abilities among the best in the game – as they well should. Already in his young career, he’s proven himself to be an elite talent, winning the National League Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in subsequent years. Oh, and throw in a World Series championship, while you’re at it.
Cubs looking to capitalize on the timing?
I personally find the timing to be a bit peculiar. Perhaps Theo Epstein looking to capitalize on Bryant’s injury to see if his third baseman would go for long-term certainty in the wake of his first real adversity at the big league level? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I hardly believe it’s coincidence.
Throw in the fact that, at least by Bryant’s standards, this season was a ‘down’ year, and the timing – at least on the Cubs’ end – makes even more sense. On the flip side, turning down the offer makes sense, too. This is a top-five player in baseball when he’s healthy and there’s no reason to handicap yourself now when player salaries continue to climb.
I wouldn’t read too much into this, honestly. Just because he reportedly turned down this extension doesn’t mean he’s unhappy in Chicago or even that he won’t wind up spending his career on the North Side.
But Boras is no fool – and he’s notorious for taking his guys all the way to free agency. This fits perfectly in that pattern and, if the Cubs weren’t already eliminated from the postseason after a disappointing showing, we likely wouldn’t be as panicked as a fan base as we are at this moment.