If reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner Kris Bryant were to hit the open market today, he would command much more than $1.05 million. But as the 25-year-old just completed his second season in the majors and is still not yet eligible for arbitration, the Cubs have the luxury of renewing Bryant’s contract on their terms. So they did, but they did decide to pay him $1.05 million, which is a record for a player who just completed his second year of service time, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Angels outfielder Mike Trout had the previous record at $1 million.
The Cubs, you may recall, waited until April 17 of 2015 to call Bryant up rather than having him start the season on the 25-man roster. They did so in an attempt to limit his service time. It was such an obvious stunt that even the MLBPA monitored the situation. Bryant, of course, went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, then followed that up by winning the MVP Award last year.
Bryant will become eligible for arbitration after this season. He’ll no doubt become significantly more expensive, so expect the Cubs to attempt to sign him to an extension that would cover most or all four of his arbitration-eligible years and even buy out 2022 and beyond, when he would become eligible for free agency.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.