This offseason the Chicago Cubs might have to make tough some choices moving forward as a number of their core players near free agency.
With one of highest payrolls in all of Major League Baseball, the Chicago Cubs don’t have a lot of money to spare. The team has to consider all their options with core players eligible for arbitration and players they want to renew.
Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber are some of the big names eligible for arbitration this upcoming season. The majority of the Cubs’ core is projected to receive an increase in arbitration salary.
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Below are the projected arbitration salaries for the Cubs according to MLB Trade Rumors.
- Kris Bryant – $18.5MM
- Addison Russell – $5.1MM
- Javier Báez – $9.3MM
- Kyle Schwarber – $8.0MM
- Willson Contreras – $4.5MM
- Albert Almora – $1.8MM
- Kyle Ryan – $1.1MM
Bryant along with Báez, Contreras and Schwarber are safe bets to get renewed for next season. However, the Cubs need to consider the fact that they may not be able to keep all four once they become free agents.
It’s especially hard to see the team sign both Báez and Bryant to contracts by 2021 when they hit the open market. As two of the National League’s premier talents, both would undoubtedly fetch massive contracts in free agency.
What hurts the Cubs most are the massive contracts of Jason Heyward and Yu Darvish. Between both of them they are owed over $170 million through 2023. At this point, you know what you’re getting from Heyward. You can only hope Darvish continues to pitch like an ace, as he did down the stretch this season.
Fans can expect Kyle Ryan to be renewed as well. The reliever proved he can be a reliable arm in the bullpen this upcoming season. As the team’s go-to lefty for much of the year, he worked to a respectable 3.54 ERA and 3.85 FIP in 73 appearances this year.
Addison Russell may be the player likeliest the Cubs will move on from on this list. With Russell’s struggles this past season and his long-standing off-field issues, he stands out as a player who possibly won’t be renewed – especially given the team’s other needs around the diamond. The club could look toward Nico Hoerner to fill Russell’s role at second base.
Albert Almora is another guy the Cubs could move to another club. This past season he slashed .236/.271/.381 with a -1.0 WAR. His contract isn’t a gut punch, so it won’t hurt the Cubs too much if they do decide to bring him back. Still, he seems like a perfect change-of-scenery candidate.
Theo Epstein will have a lot to consider this offseason regarding the Chicago Cubs arbitration salaries. Maintaining a large payroll in the coming years doesn’t leave the front office much wiggle room to sign all these players up for large contracts once they become free agents.