As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports, the Chicago Cubs approached third baseman Kris Bryant about a long-term contract extension earlier this year, but Bryant wasn’t at all enthusiastic. Heyman writes that “one Cubs person suggested the response was something along the lines of, ‘We’re good.’ That meant there was no counter offer.”
Through two full seasons, the 25-year-old Bryant has already won a National League Rookie of the Year and MVP, and he helped the Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years last fall. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and his salary will likely increase substantially from the $1.05 million he’s making this season. Whatever the offer that the Cubs approached Bryant with was, it likely would have bought him out of his four remaining arbitration years and possibly his first year or two of free agency, much like the six-year, $144.5 million deal that the Angels gave Mike Trout before the 2015 season.
It’s difficult to blame Bryant, who could reasonably start at any of the infield or outfield corner positions and has posted a .283/.380/.524 slash line with 76 homers in his first 1,576 major-league plate appearances. He stands to earn a king’s ransom as a free agent after the 2021 season, and it doesn’t make much sense for him to cap his earning potential for that season if he doesn’t have to.
This will be the second time this season that news of a 2016 World Series star resisting the temptation to sign a long-term deal has become public. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported back in April that 23-year-old Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor had tabled extension talks with Cleveland, citing his desire to focus on the season. Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci reported that the Indians offered Lindor a long-term deal worth roughly $100 million before the season, but the young shortstop rejected the offer.