A Bryant Extension Would Save Money

by Moshe W.

The Cubs could save $7m in luxury tax penalties by signing Kris Bryant now to a four-year contract covering his arbitration years.

The Cubs will face a salary cap crunch as soon as arbitration salaries rise for most of their young core. The Cubs have plenty of cap room this offseason (). Yet the Cubs will need to use most of that space to sign pitching this offseason. Once they do, the Cubs will not have much cap space moving forward into 2019-2021, during the heart of their competitive window.

As such, I expect the Cubs will exceed the luxury tax in 2019, 2020, and 2021, in order to stay competitive. Luxury tax penalties rise each year a team stays over the cap. The penalties also increase the more money a team spends over the cap. Signing Bryant to a four-year deal today would lower the Cubs cap liability in 2020 and 2021, when cap penalties would be highest.

In my chart, I estimate Bryant will earn the following salaries in arbitration: 2018 - $8.9m; 2019 - $14m; 2020 - $19m; & 2021 - $24m. That equals $66m over four years. These arbitration salaries are one-year contracts. As a result, Bryant’s cap hit grows larger every year. Multi-year contracts, however, are averaged for cap purposes. If Bryant signed a four-year contract for the exact same four salaries, his cap hit all four years would be $16.5m. That would increase his cap hit in 2018 by $7.5m, a year when the Cubs do not plan to exceed the cap. Yet it would lower his cap hit by $7.5m in 2021. The penalty on $7.5m in 2021, could be as high as $7.13m. In other words, the Cubs could save themselves over $7m, without shortchanging Bryant in the process.

Bryant is a Scott Boras client. Boras is well known for advising his clients against signing extensions, so I don’t expect Bryant to sign any deal that extends beyond his arbitration years (2018-2021). But Bryant would probably be happy to sign a four-year deal through his arbitration years. He might even give the Cubs a small discount for guaranteeing the money now.

Such a deal does have some risk: Bryant might have a serious injury or catch whatever bug bit Jason Heyward when he left St. Louis. But the potential savings make it worthwhile.

For me, the most exciting thing about seeing a Bryant four-year deal, would be the confirmation that the Cubs are planning on spending above the salary cap soon. I am a firm believer that the Cubs need to start flexing their financial muscles and behaving like the big-market team they are. Signing Bryant would not only confirm the Cubs intend to spend big, but would also show they are planning ahead for the process.


DFA'ing bryant would save even more money. MONEYBALLS!

Totally unrelated, but wouldn't Billy Hamilton be interesting on this team as a 4th OF type?

He would. I think that is a better profile for him, especially given his mediocre OBP and runs scored total over his career. But I don't think he sees himself as a 4th outfielder, which could be a problem. He's got two more years until he hits free agency and he might balk at anything that would drive his perceived value down like that.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • erich081 3 hours 24 min ago (view)

    Brach in during a one run game where the ball seems to be flying out of the park? I too like to live dangerously.


  • Eric S 3 hours 40 min ago (view)

    Robel’s 454 foot splashdown - 6th longest homer by a Cub this season



  • Arizona Phil 5 hours 4 min ago (view)

    RHP Aneuris Rosario (2014 IFA - Dominican Republic) has been reinstated from the Disqualified List. Now 24, Rosario spent four seasons in the DSL (2014-17) and was the one-time closer for DSL Cubs #1. He hasn't pitched since 2017.  


  • Charlie 5 hours 25 min ago (view)

    Last hurrah as a starter before the Cubs trade for an outfielder who gets on base?


  • crunch 6 hours 24 min ago (view)

    i wonder why almora's started almost every game the past week+, especially since he's sucked at it...and he even got to hit leadoff for a game or 2.


  • Charlie 6 hours 52 min ago (view)

    Oof. Almora and Maldonado as starters is going to be rough on the offense. Better hope for at least a Garcia triple.


  • crunch 7 hours 38 min ago (view)

    schwarber / baez / bryant / rizzo / garcia(2nd) / heyward / almora / maldo / a.mills

    ham gets a AAA rehab start tomorrow.  also, i could do with less almora.


  • QuietMan 13 hours 54 min ago (view)

    Edwards optioned to Iowa per Jesse Rogers,


  • George Altman 14 hours 8 min ago (view)

    Yeah.....yeah. I think I'm good too. Put him and Strop in the Shawn Greene deal.


  • Mike Wellman 16 hours 17 min ago (view)

    I feel like I've already waited & seen enough of CEJ...


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 16 hours 39 min ago (view)

    Not as much as it makes his stomach tighten!

    i dont think we should trade him. We would get nothing of value back. But I don’t think he should be a bullpen piece on a playoff contender either. He should be in Iowa. Reassess where he’s at for September and next year. If they don’t like what they see, non-tender.


  • Charlie 17 hours 11 min ago (view)

    Cheap may not be the right word, but has put up reasonable value per dollar compared to other relievers prior to this ear.

    He accrued 2.9 bWAR 2017-2018. Strop put up 3.2 bWAR during the same period. Edwards is making $1.5M this year. Strop is making $6.25M. He'll get a bump again this offseason even if he doesn't rebound in the second half, of course. I just don't see a need to trade him unless the Cubs are being offered value in return.

    That said, it does make my stomach knot up a bit when I see they are bringing him into a close game.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 48 min ago (view)

    Carl Edwards Jr will be out of minor league options next season (2020), and he will (once again) be arbitration-eligible post-2019 (he was "Super Two" arb eligible post-2018) and he will be a FA post-2022. 


  • crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    cubs lose, cards win, brews win.



  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 8 hours ago (view)

    I think this is his last option year. And he’s not as cheap as you’d think, he’s a super two qualified player this year.


  • Charlie 1 day 8 hours ago (view)

    Edwards is frustrating at times. Some of that frustration comes from thinking he could be much better than he currently is. But prior to this year (in which he has pitched very few innings), he's overall been an OK relief pitcher in the majors. I'm happy to wait and see on him for quite a while. Still has an option and is cheap, right?