Chicago Cubs players Kris Bryant, Hector Rondon, and others are awaiting decisions on their 2018 contracts and may very well be going to arbitration, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.
All 29 Major League baseball teams have until Friday night to offer their players a contract. Any players not given a contract by that time will become free agents.
This puts the Cubs, who had hoped to build a dynasty following their 2016 World Series win but fell to the Dodgers in the 2017 NCLS, in a rather precarious position, especially when it comes to their big-money stars — and Kris Bryant is chief among them. The 2015 Rookie of the Year is now in his first year of arbitration eligibility, and he’s going to command big money from whichever team wants him. And of course, the Cubs want to keep him.
However, to do that, they’re likely going to have to pony up something in the neighborhood of $9 million. That’s what a popular MLB trade rumors website predicts ($8.9 million, specifically). That’s pretty close to the most any MLB player has ever been offered in his first year of arbitration eligibility – that record goes to Ryan Howard, who got a $10 million contract in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2008.
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Meanwhile, the future of the Cubs’ pitching staff remains unclear. Clearly, the team needs to shore up its pitching, but whether they intend to stick with their existing lineup remains to be seen.
Hector Rondon, 29, was the Cubs’ closer for the start of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. However, he struggled in 2017, with a 4.24 ERA in 61 appearances. Will the Cubs be willing to give him the $6 million he’s expected to receive?
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Further muddling the Cubs’ pitching picture is the absence of Wade Davis. The closer proved invaluable to the Cubs’ relief roster in 2017, but he’s now a free agent. The organization has hired new pitching coach Jim Hickey and a new special assistant, Jim Benedict. Those two may be tasked with trying to turn around Rondon’s faltering career, or the Cubs may let him go and look elsewhere.
Another Cubs pitcher with an uncertain future with the organization is Justin Grimm, 29. He’s projected to command $2.4 million. But like Rondon, he struggled in 2017, with a 5.53 ERA in 50 appearances in 2017.
Meanwhile, some other Cubs players, a couple of them also marquee names, are looking at arbitration if they’re not offered a contract by Friday. Those include starter Kyle Hendricks, shortstop Addison Russell, infielder Tommy La Stella, and left-handed reliever Justin Wilson.
[Featured Image by Nam Y. Huh/AP Images]