The Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant have avoided arbitration: the former MVP will make $18.6 million in 2020. He made $12.9 million in 2019.
Bryant, 28, is coming off of another productive season in which he hit .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs and 77 RBI across 634 plate appearances. He’s a three-time All-Star who won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2016 NL MVP Award.
He’s also in the middle of an ongoing service time grievance, the decision for which should come out soon. If he wins, this will be his last deal with the Cubs before he hits free agency. If he loses, he and the Cubs will go through this process again next year. And, of course, the Cubs have been at least considering the idea of trading Bryant, but can’t pull the trigger on that until they know if they have one or two more years of control over him.
The Cubs had reportedly at least made some overtures to Bryant regarding a long-term deal, but those talks were said to have gone nowhere. Part of that is, no doubt, due to the uncertainty regarding the grievance, which would change the leverage in negotiations. Part of it, also, may very well be that Bryant has lingering displeasure with the Cubs’ front office over the way in which they manipulated his service time back in 2015, which led to the grievance in the first place.
For now, though, 2020 is sorted.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.
With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.
Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.
Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.