Extend Them All

Today’s piece was very long, and ranged into several aspects of the Cubs’ present and future. Its main thrust, though, was a detailed proposal for an extension to which the team should sign each of Javier Báez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Anthony Rizzo. Here’s the Bryant entry, as a taste of it all.

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Kris Bryant

Current 2021 Salary: $19.5 million

Proposed Contract: 7 years, $154 million

Breakdown: 2021-25: $23 million annually. 2026-27: $18 million annually. 2028: $17-million club option, with $3-million buyout. Opt-out after 2023.

Ages: 29-35, with option year at age 36

Look, Scott Boras is fearless, and Bryant’s made a zillion dollars already, not only on the field, but through endorsements. Maybe the player and agent choose to gamble that Bryant has the kind of healthy, MVP-caliber season he needs to have to restore his perceived value to that level and earn an Anthony Rendon-sized deal in free agency. Bryant’s going to hit free agency at the same age at which Rendon did; this deal asks him to take $91 million less over the same term than the Angels gave Rendon.

That said, were I Bryant (or Boras), I would take this deal, and I don’t think it’s implausible that they will take such a deal. Rendon was consistently excellent for his final three seasons with the Nationals—far above any level Bryant has attained in a full season since 2017. He was a true free agent. As opposed to the Bogaerts deal, Rendon’s was signed during a winter in which spending surged league-wide, and since which a global pandemic has dented the market a bit. The opt-out lets Bryant keep a good-sized chunk of upside, too, especially since the deal is front-loaded. Most of all, though, he’s battled injuries and outright failure over the last three seasons, and he has as much to lose from a bad season as to gain from a good one.

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