Will the Cubs’ 2020 pandemic situation hurt Kris Bryant’s value?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant is due for a considerable paycheck when he becomes a free agent after the 2021 season.

Soon, Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant will become a free agent.

After the 2021 season, his sixth full year in the league, Bryant will have a significant decision to make unless the Cubs pony up and offer him a contract extension before then or decide to trade the 28-year-old slugger.

This winter, Bryant lost a highly publicized service-time grievance against the Chicago Cubs, barring him from becoming a free agent one year earlier. The Cubs infamously called Bryant up on April 17 in 2015; had he been called up a day earlier, he would have accrued the requisite 172 days of service time needed to count as a full season and would have been eligible to become a free agent after the 2020 season instead.

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Either way, the day of free agent reckoning is coming for the Chicago Cubs home run hitting star. With the 2020 season in jeopardy because of the global pandemic, Bryant is missing out on opportunities to impress potential future free-agent suitors with each day baseball isn’t played.

However, Bryant’s agent, the notorious Scott Boras, doesn’t think the situation with the current season will affect his star client’s value when free agency rolls around. Per NBC Sports Chicago writer Gordon Wittenmyer.

"He’s an established guy, a very proven player. And there aren’t many players like him,” Boras said. “Just plays so many positions; he’s a power hitter; .900-OPS players are hard to find. And you always have the [added] benefit of less wear and tear [from a shortened season] going forward.”"

The established player he is; here are some of Bryant’s accomplishments since he entered the league in 2015.

Boras also touts Bryant’s defensive versatility as a reason why his value will remain high even if the 2020 season gets completely canceled. Bryant has played both corner infield positions and all three outfield positions during his Cubs career (he also randomly appeared at shortstop for one inning of one game in 2016; he didn’t get anything hit at him).

Furthermore, Boras detailed how COVID-19’s effect on the team’s spending trends could offer an advantage for big-ticket free agents like Kris Bryant.

"“What it’s going to impact is that there’s going to be major markets who obviously didn’t make money but didn’t lose, and so they’re going to turn around and want to make money next year,” he said, “and they figure their chances for winning a world championship are greater because there may be a lot of clubs that are less likely to invest in major free agents for a year or two.”“For the players who are the great players — because there’s always only a few great players — I don’t think it’s going to have anywhere near the impact,” Boras said, “because those great players are somebody you would sign for 10 years, and you can defer the cost. You just backload the contracts. You can do things with long-term contracts; you could wait for better times but still get the player for today."

The contrarian argument to that is this: maybe the one thing working against Bryant and Boras if getting as much money as possible is of the essence is the strength of the 2021-2022 free-agent class.

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With fierce bidding wars likely and teams allocating monster contracts among these players, there’s a chance Bryant gets lost in the shuffle and doesn’t get paid as much money as he would in a typical free agency year where he is indisputably one of the best two or three players available.

Of course, this clutter could be good for the Chicago Cubs prospects of re-signing their star. Which regardless of how well Bryant’s agent thinks he’ll look to the eyes of free-agent suitors, it would be the dream outcome from the perspective of most Cubs fans.