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Cubs renew Kris Bryant at record $1.05 million

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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.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.