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.

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  • Dolorous Jon Lester 19 hours 2 min ago (view)

    I think, in relation to the higher profile guys like Javy or Contreras, they're trying to put some pressure on to sign extensions.

    That said I do think they're listening on everyone with the only name I haven't seen being Rizzo.


  • crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    i wonder where the cubs will go with things.

    there's a lot pointing to the cubs being expected to listen to offers on almost anyone.  as it is, on paper, the cubs could roll right into 2020 with no changes whatsoever and still field a very competitive team.  the whole "shakeup" thing seems to be a very hot topic from a variety of sources, though.

    bryant, contreras, schwarber have all been linked to "cubs may be listening" rumors...probably listening to anything on happ, bote, almora, russell, too...


  • Hagsag 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    Even the Cubs should be able to out bid the Marlins!


  • crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    "According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins are "believed" to have interest in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos."

    by interest, i assume they mean they'd like to have some baseball rookie cards or his or maybe a hug from him.  i can't imagine they actually want to spend money on someone they could use to make their team better because that makes no sense.


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    Prior to joining the Cubs in 2012 Scott Harris was Director of Baseball Operations in the MLB office, which means he received, reviewed, and approved all major league and minor league contracts and transactions, as well as providing MLB clubs with schedules, rules updates, and draft information. 


  • Cubster 2 days 12 hours ago (view)

    Giants hire Scott Harris, from Cubs front office,  as GM


  • Charlie 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    For anyone else who immediately wonders but is not invested enough to look it up, this is not Chris (Ryan) Young, former Padres starter and fisticuffs partner of Derrek Lee, but rather the two-years younger Chris Matthew Young.


  • crunch 4 days 1 hour ago (view)

    rev up those off-season rumor fryers...

    Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
    Multiple teams in search of catching help believe Cubs catcher Willson Contreras will be available this winter. The Cubs will get creative this winter, and with a deep catching free agent market, they could trade Contreras and begin retooling under new manager David Ross.


  • crunch 4 days 6 hours ago (view)

    former padres manager andy green is gonna be ross's bench coach.

    green was c.rea's manager in SD, btw.


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 12 hours ago (view)

    Last year the Cubs signed four free-agents to minor league contracts prior to the Rule 5 Draft: LHP Alberto Baldonado, OF Wynton Bernard, RHP Corey Black, and RHP Jose Rosario. All four were members of the Cubs organization in 2018 but declined to sign a 2019 minor league successor contract prior to being declared a free-agent, but then came back to the Cubs after briefly testing the free-agent waters. 


  • crunch 4 days 17 hours ago (view)

    chris young to be named new bullpen coach (former phillies pitching coach)

    mixed messages on whether lester strode will have a new cubs role or leaving the cubs...


  • crunch 5 days 10 hours ago (view)

    t.clifton straight up falling off a cliff sucked to watch happen last year.

    i had a lot of faith in the guy to at least hold his own in AAA, even if he needed another season or 2 after to get ready for prime time.

    he ended up giving out homers like candy on halloween while retaining his high walk and injury rate.

    that said, his career is far from done.  most likely many other teams willing to give him a minor league deal.


  • Arizona Phil 5 days 14 hours ago (view)

    Keep in mind that most free-agents who sign a 2020 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft are eligible for selection. (The only exception would be a free-agent who is not yet eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, such as a player whose only previous pro experience was in a foreign major league or in an independent minor league, or a player who was released by another MLB organization but is still not yet eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft).  


  • Arizona Phil 5 days 15 hours ago (view)

    If you're wondering if players who sign minor league successor contracts ever get taken in the Rule 5 Draft, the answer is most definitely - YES -. 

    The Cubs selected RHP Hector Rondon in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft after the Indians signed him to a minor league successor contract, and the Baltimore Orioles selected RHP Pedro Araujo in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft after the Cubs signed him to a minor league successor contract. 


  • Hagsag 5 days 15 hours ago (view)

    Got to get Taylor Davis back.


  • Arizona Phil 5 days 15 hours ago (view)

    So the Cubs were ultimately able to retain five of their seven most-valuable post-2019 minor league free-agent eligibles (Rea, Pereda, de la Cruz, Lugo, and Burks), losing only Clifton and Leal (both of whom are probably looking for a fresh start in another organization after maybe feeling stalled in the Cubs system).