Chicago Cubs: Who will sign and who will test the waters?
If players had already gotten some big money in the form of signing bonuses that make the life-changing money argument a tougher sell. Of the Cubs’ seven arbitration-eligible players this year all of them except two (Kyle Hendricks and Carl Edwards Jr. were first-round draft picks who got significant signing bonuses. Hendricks was a 39th round pick and Edwards was a 48th round pick.
Hendricks was a Cy Young finalist in 2016 and is just barely 29 years old. So the Cubs should be trying to sign him to an extension. However, this is Hendricks’ second year of arbitration. So he is already starting to earn millions of dollars. The right-hander could be a free agent after just two more seasons. So he may now be thinking he’s so close that he should just wait until he is a free agent to sign his next contract.
Edwards, on the other hand, is a candidate to just lose it. When he is right he is one of the best setup men in baseball. But after losing his control late last year Edwards is one of just many questions in the Cubs bullpen.
Arbitration contracts are not guaranteed until Opening Day. A player on an arbitration contract can be cut during Spring Training and receive either 30 or 45 days termination pay, depending on when during spring training they are cut. That is what the Cubs did with Grimm last year. I’m not saying the Cubs will eventually cut Edwards during camp, but its a nice option to have with players who are on arbitration contracts. It’s also nice to be able to go year to year with players whose talents are as volatile as Edwards and Grimm.
Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Mike Montgomery and Addison Russell were all first round picks. As such, they all received significant signing bonuses after they were drafted. So far none of them have signed extensions.
Bryant is especially unlikely to sign a contract extension. Scott Boras is his agent and is known for taking his clients to free agency. Bryant is already earning millions of dollars in salary even before he becomes a free agent. His arbitration and pre-arbitration salaries are breaking records. The 2016 National League MVP has also earned significant sums of money from endorsement deals with companies such as RedBull. Bryant even had an Addias billboard that read, “Worth the Wait,” across the street from Wrigley Field before he had even made his Major League debut.
After his MVP runner-up season, signing Baez to a contract extension would be even more expensive and less likely than it was a year ago. But consider for a moment the bargain that the Milwaukee Brewers got on Christian Yelich‘s MVP performance. Yelich signed a seven-year, $49.5 million contract back in 2015. So the Brewers only paid about $7 million for last year’s National League MVP.