The Kansas City Royals signed 23-year-old shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. to an 11-year $288 million dollar contract extension after his second full season in the major leagues. Last year, Witt hit .276/.319/.495 with 49 stolen bases and 30 homers.
To put that into perspective only three players in MLB history have hit 30 homers and had 50 stolen bases in the same season:
1. Eric Davis
2. Barry Bonds
3. Ronald Acuna
And in 2012 Mike Trout also put together a season where he hit 30 homers and had 49 stolen bases.
Bobby Witt's extension begs the question of whether the Chicago Cubs will ever make such a deal themselves.
The only one who looks like he could check those boxes at a position of equal defensive importance is Pete Crow-Armstrong, the Chicago Cubs' current top prospect.
In 2021, Bobby Witt spent his age-21 season split between AA and AAA. He hit .290/.361/.576 with 33 homers and 29 stolen bases.
In 2023, Pete Crow-Armstrong spent his age-21 season split between AA and AAA. He hit .283/.365/.511 with 20 homers and 37 stolen bases.
Witt was a fine player as a rookie. He put together a .254/.294/.428 slash line with 20 homers and 30 stolen bases. He finished 4th in the AL Rookie of the Year voting but managed to put up just a 102 OPS+ and 0.9 WAR according to Baseball Reference.
Last season, and the exponential growth that is the expectation because of it, is what got Witt paid. His OPS+ jumped to 120 and his WAR jumped to 4.4, which basically just went to show that it wasn’t just his fantasy stats that were impressive.
The biggest thing that Crow-Armstrong has going for him that may help put Witt’s numbers into an attainable range is that he will have a significantly better team surrounding him and protecting him in the batting order.
In 2022 the Royals had 65 wins and last season they had 56 wins. If the Cubs can field a better offense than those Royals teams then Crow-Armstrong could slot in at the bottom of the order and put together similar peripherals even if he’s not a 30/30 guy at the major league level.
If that happens, hopefully the Cubs prove to be as willing to pay him as the Royals were to pay Witt.