Chicago Cubs: Why was David Bote’s extension so darned easy?

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

As the Chicago Cubs continue to grind through a miserable final two months of the 2021 season, it’s difficult not to think about what went wrong (everything). It feels like the Cubs of old all over again and the expectations for the season were popped like a balloon.

As we’ve had time to move on from our core and the pain that came with a lack of extensions, thinking about one player who was extended has to make us curious in David Bote. He seemingly had one of the most seamless extension conversations you’ll see and with everything that’s transpired we can only ask: why was that so easy?

In April 2019, Bote signed a five-year, $15 million extension to be with the Cubs through 2024, with a team option for 2025. When he signed the deal, he was coming off a 2018 where he batted .239 with an OPS of .727 and a WAR of 1.0.

Not eye-popping numbers by any means and the story goes Bote walked into the office of Theo Epstein to inquire about it and they just made it work. As he was starting a family at the time, he was looking for some stability and Epstein honored his performance with the five-year deal.

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Sure, Bote was well-liked by the fans and had demonstrated some clutch performances in 2018, including the walk-off grand slam down 3-0 to the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth, but why was it so easy for him to ink a deal while the idea was never really thrown around for some of our other stars?

Of course there were other factors at play but at some point during all the madness, why didn’t a Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo or Javier Baez take that approach and sit down and ask about it? Some initiative on their side or vice versa seemed to be missing and the Bote extension just seems strange the more it’s thought about.

Bote is one of three Cubs under a guaranteed contract for next season and his proactivity is the reason for that. Sure, he’s regressed in his time with the Cubs and there’s a few others names we’d rather see under contract, but his upfront nature has to be respected.

Chicago Cubs: David Bote extension is still a bit of a head-scratcher

Bote had his best year in 2019 where he batted .257 with an OPS of .785, but hit .200 in 2020 and is hitting .197 so far this season. While he won’t be considered an everyday player moving forward, he needs to step up as a utilityman and the Cubs want more out of him as part of this group for at least another three seasons.

The Bote extension made sense at the time, but now we can only kind of scratch our heads. What was thought to have been the first of many has become the only signing and has only made the future more uncertain.

It’ll be hard to ever understand why his talks with the front office were so easy and our stars had such a difficult time, if even at all, but we have to be grateful he wants to be here and will be willing to put the work in to be a key utility piece to add around.

dark. Next. What current Cubs will remain on the 2022 roster?

Having Bote around will be comforting in a way, but only if Jed Hoyer can open up the wallet this offseason and add valuable pieces to help this team win.