A horrendous 2020 season from Kris Bryant could actually benefit the Cubs.
This offseason, likely even more so than the last few, will be heavily dictated by financial limitations. That rings true not only for the Chicago Cubs, but across Major League Baseball. We could be looking at an unprecedented number of non-tenders in early December – which could mean a ton of change across the landscape.
A critical part of a team’s ability to allocate resources, make trades and sign free agents is payroll. That’s obvious. The arbitration process can have a major impact on a team’s payroll and the Cubs are certainly no exception, especially with several big name players entering their final year of team control.
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Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber are all arbitration-eligible one last time this winter. None of the three played particularly well this season – although Bryant and Baez seemed to struggle a great deal more than Schwarber.
MLBTR unveiled their annual arbitration predictions on Thursday afternoon – and there were certainly some surprises when it came to those numbers.
To account for the lack of an agreement between MLB and the MLBPA and the resulting uncertainty regarding what the arbitration process might look like, there were three models used in this instance.
Method 1: Applies model directly with actual statistics from this 60-game season. Method 2: Extrapolates all counting stats to would-be 162-game totals. One home run becomes 2.7 home runs. Method 3: For non-first-time eligibles, finds the raise they’d get in a 162 game season, then gives them 37% of that raise.
Regardless of what model is employed, MLBTR has Bryant not earning a penny more than he made this year. All three have him clocking in at $18.6 million in 2021, assuming a full season is played and he gets his full contract as planned.
That really puts the injury woes and offensive struggles Bryant has battled through in perspective. It’s incredibly rare to see a guy stay level or lose salary in the arbitration process, especially one who is a former Rookie of the Year and MVP. But that’s exactly what we could be looking at for Bryant.
Given we know Tom Ricketts is going to be all about the bottom line, saving a few million bucks means a lot for the Cubs franchise. Of course, they’d have no problem paying him for being a superstar – but that’s not what they got in 2020. It might also make him a more palatable trade target for other teams with him staying under that $20 million mark annually.
You can read more about the team’s big picture outlook when it comes to arbitration here. Right now, there’s just so much uncertainty about what this offseason and any negotiations between teams and players will look like, it’s hard to really sink our teeth into these projections.
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But seeing your former franchise cornerstone not getting a raise because he played that poorly isn’t a situation you wanna see. Hopefully we end up seeing a bright spot from this bleak evaluation of Bryant’s 2020 performance.