Headlined by likely MVP finalist Javier Baez, several Chicago Cubs players will likely receive major pay increases via arbitration this offseason.
Yesterday, I delved into the financial implications (at least in the immediate future) of the Chicago Cubs signing either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper this offseason. And, right on cue, MLBTR released their initial round of arbitration projections for the coming months.
The big winner? Cubs infielder Javier Baez – who goes through the arbitration process first time this winter on the heels of a massive breakout campaign. Other big-time raises appear likely for Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, Mike Montgomery and former National League MVP Kris Bryant.
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At season’s end, the Cubs’ 2018 payroll sat at $194.2 million, according to Spotrac. That comes in just under the competitive balance tax mark of $197 million, a figure that increases to $206 million in 2019.
Just in the interest of keeping this focused on the guys who will go through arbitration this winter, we aren’t going to get into guys whose salaries either increase or decrease in their contracts next season.
Last season, this group accounted for a total of $21,461,000 in payroll. If MLBTR projections ring true (which isn’t a certainty) – that number skyrockets to $40,100,000. If math isn’t your strong suit, that comes out to just under a $20 million increase.
The big winners
After making just $657,000 last season, Baez gets a tremendous jump – all the way up to $7.1 million. That should hardly come as a surprise after he put up personal bests in home runs (34), RBI (111), OPS (.881) and, well, pretty much every other offensive category.
Oh, and he did it all while providing unrivaled defensive versatility around the Cubs infield, playing at every position at some point – namely second, third and shortstop. And he’s not the only winner on this roster.
Kyle Hendricks put up another strong second half, and is targeted to go from $4.175 to $7.6 million. Kris Bryant, despite his injury-plagued season, still managed a 119 OPS+ with a .374 on-base percentage and is projected to earn a raise just over $2.2 million.
Both Kyle Schwarber and Mike Montgomery get nice boosts, as well. Both guys made right around $600,000 in 2018 – and MLBTR has them both pegged somewhere in the $3 million neighborhood.
Russell and La Stella both performed well (despite how the season ended for the former) and they’ll see nice pay raises, as well.
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All told, it’s a good time to be a member of a 95-win club ripe with talent. I have to imagine Tom Ricketts, and by extension, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, have their eye on next offseason, when the Cubs are expected to launch their own television network – thus, opening the floodgates of increased revenue.
Because, for now, it’s time to loosen those purse strings.