Yesterday, rumors surfaced of Kris Bryant turning down a $200+ million extension from the Chicago Cubs. Of course, fans got nervous real quick.
People already view Kris Bryant as a face of the Chicago Cubs franchise – maybe even the face, ahead of fellow corner infielder Anthony Rizzo. So, when you hear he turned down a contract extension ‘well north of $200 million’ – it only makes sense you get a bit nervous.
The discussions on social media quickly turned from Bryant to the Cubs’ young core, as a whole. Why haven’t Theo and Jed pulled the trigger to lock some of these guys up? We’re talking about a substantial chunk of the roster here: Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Ian Happ, Javier Baez and, of course, Bryant.
I touched on MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections earlier this week – and the forthcoming $20 million payroll increase coming via the arbitration-eligible players (excluding Addison Russell, who I believe has played his last game in a Cubs uniform). In short, we’re nearing the time we all knew would one day come – when cost-controlled, young assets start eating up more and more payroll.
For the last four years, Chicago has enjoyed relative payroll flexibility, with the ability to go out and sign guys like Jon Lester, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Yu Darvish, etc. without dealing with uncomfortable payroll crunches. Now, that’s starting to change.