Report: Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant Far Apart in Signing Talks

Kris BryantKris Bryant, the Chicago Cubs’ top pick in the Draft this year, is one of very few first rounders remaining unsigned, and most of those around him in the Draft came to terms a long time ago.

That, alone, is no reason to worry. As a junior represented by Scott Boras, the negotiations were always expected to take a while with Bryant. But a report today from Jon Heyman suggests there are actual issues in the negotiations, with Bryant’s camp (represented by Scott Boras) wanting the Cubs to go over the $6.7 million slot value for the number two pick, and the Cubs looking to sign Bryant for closer to $6 million, which would leave them some room to take some shots at over slot types later in the Draft. (For more on where things stand in this regard, see this post.)

The Cubs recently wrapped up their other picks in the top ten rounds, meaning that they know where they stand in terms of penalties if they fail to sign Bryant. Fortunately, if the Cubs fail to sign Bryant, it looks like the Cubs would not be at risk for losing a future draft pick, based on the deals they’ve made with players in the top ten rounds already (that includes the shrinking of the allowed 5% overage). That assumes, however, that the Cubs haven’t already inked any over slot deals with players after round 10, and don’t have any intentions to do so.

In that regard, the real battle here isn’t about $700,000, which the Cubs can surely afford. The battle is about how much the Cubs can give Bryant without mucking up their Draft plans. If Boras gets too grabby, there could be an issue

That said, I still believe the Cubs fully expect to sign Bryant at least slightly under slot so that they can (1) sign, officially, 12th round high school pitcher Trevor Clifton, who has already said that he’s receiving “third round money” to sign with the Cubs, and (2) have a little money left to take some shots with guys they took later in the Draft. I can’t possibly believe the Cubs didn’t know, with some certainty, the range it was going to take to sign Bryant when they drafted him in the first place. A worthwhile reminder: the Cubs could still make Bryant the top paid pick in the Draft (Mark Appel got $6.35 million), AND get him for under slot.

The Heyman report doesn’t really worry me at this point, particularly given Heyman’s closeness to many, many Scott Boras rumors over the years. Boras wants to get the most money for Bryant as possible, and he knows the Cubs might have some extra money to play with by the signing deadline (July 12). These negotiations will probably continue on for a while, and Bryant will probably get as much as the Cubs have left to give at that point. The risk of Bryant not signing is close to zero.

But that won’t keep us all from feeding on the drama for a couple more weeks …

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

152 responses to “Report: Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant Far Apart in Signing Talks”

  1. FastBall

    The kid isn’t being greedy at all. He is being smart. If he hurt his knee walking across the street the love from the Cubs would end in a heartbeat. I am always on the players side when it comes to the money. Take every penny you can get because it’s a short and sweet time in your life. Even if your really good you career ends at 36ish. That’s a long time to have to make a fraction of the income you get doing something else.

    1. Vin23

      That’s insane. In baseball, it’s the club that gets zero protection. If he signs and tears up the knew…oh well to the cubs.

      Baseball’s high picks have a very low “hit” rate for the investment.

    2. ssckelley

      Normally I am as well but in this case the fan in me sees the other high school talent the Cubs drafted later in the draft and I hope Bryant will sign for under slot. Anything above $5 million is to much for Bryant to risk in order to return back to school with the hopes of getting more money in next years draft. A college senior has even has less leverage and there is always the chance he could regress. This is not about the Cubs being cheap, they are simply trying to get the most talent they drafted signed with in the rules of the CBA.

      Besides the 5-6 million he gets as a signing bonus is only a small fraction of what he could make once he starts accumulating service time.

      1. SenorGato

        None of those high school talents is anywhere near Bryant as a prospect. If you pick #2 overall the priority is to get that guy in the organization. The chances Bryant puts up a 20+ WAR career is insanely higher than it is for anyone else they drafted.

        Getting the most talent of what they drafted is bringing in the #2 pick.

        1. Pat

          Plus, why should he be inclined to take less than his position says he’s worth so they can give someone else more than their draft status would indicate? I wouldn’t like that scenario either.

  2. Blinda

    Easy negotiation strategy… if he says that he is going back to school just say “You won’t”

    1. Big Joe

      Correct.
      There’s no way he’s going back to school. Why? To TRY to move up 1 pick, in next year’s draft? A class, by the way, that has already been labeled deeper, and better.
      The team doesn’t have to be unprofessional, or rude. Just call his bluff, if it come to it.
      “You want to go back to school? Oh, ok. Good luck with that.”

  3. FastBall

    If he takes half his signing bonus and invests it for a year he won’t get enough next year to make up for the money he will lose by not signing in interest alone. He will sign. He will have $6MM he doesn’t have right now. He won’t piss away that for a prayer on next year.

  4. Spencer

    Pretty unusual to see a factual inaccuracy in a Heyman article.

  5. Mr. Gonzo

    Bryant must be back from his “time off”… let the games begin. It’s all about who folds first in the final hour.

  6. The Dude Abides

    1/ Boras is responsible to deliver the best contract available to his client
    2/ Boras is then responsible to advise his client, ultimately the decision belongs to his client
    3/ Boras is a paid a commission

    It is probably safe to say, IE Appel, that anyone who walks like Appel did last year is strictly their decision not Boras. Publically he supports the decision, privately he lost his commission.

    The risk for Bryant to go back considering the gap between his homer totals and everyone else will be hard to duplicate. Theo and Boras will close the deal.

  7. CubsFanSaxMan

    Offer the young man a dollar over Appel so that he can claim “highest bonus” status. Then it is up to him to take it or leave it. That’s it!! If he walks just move on. My bet is . . . . he walks back to the Cubs!!

  8. Jason

    Look he’s going to sign. He was the 2nd pick but he will get more than Appel. Just pay him the 6.7 mil and if he doesn’t take it then he’s an idiot. I live in Las Vegas I’m going to head over to Bryant’s house and talk some sense into him.

  9. another JP

    One reason this story broke today is that Boras isn’t getting the Cubs to move and it’s making him nervous. So he puts his mouthpiece out there whining that the two sides are far apart thinking that public pressure will mount in Cub nation for the FO to make a deal. If Boras insists on getting much more than $6M than screw him. After the underslot deals signed by Appel and Gray his name will be mud and Bryant will be the one to suffer the consequences. Scottie already lost one major FA client this year and more will follow.

    1. 5412

      Hi,

      Borass has to put on a show for his client to justify his fees.

      Part of the game.

      Regards,
      5412

  10. ssckelley

    So now I understand why they have not announced Clifton’s signing or have not made any headway in signing Alamo. I was hoping this was already a done deal and that Bryant was signing for the 5.6 million I have read (rumors). Then I go back to how much they signed the 3rd round pick for (Hannemann) and I get ticked off again.

    1. Lou Brown

      Yeah, I am sure there is nothing official with Clifton and Alamo, I doubt the FO would paint themselves into a corner and risk next year’s draft pick. If the FO gives Bryant close to slot, there is no way to sign them anyway. Hopefully the FO is not budging, and this is Boras getting desperate.

  11. cubmig

    It’s a no brainer that Bryant (really Boras) would push for as much $$$ as time would/will allow. I, like another poster said, don’t blame Bryant for negotiating for the highest he can get. It’s business.

    That all said, if the Cubs’ FO assessment see Bryant as an very key part of their rebuilding plan, then they should bite the bullet and sign him at the best negotiated price they can get——but sign him. If they waive their assessment for saving dollars for “down-the-road” ideas, then let the deadline call the winner.

    Personally, I say sign the guy and adjust everything else the FO may have in mind.

  12. Serious Cubs Fan

    Too much risk for Bryant to go back to school. A down year, injury, or significant holes could be discovered that would drop his stock for next years draft. And the Cubs have at least a little leverage by saying, “Go walk, and we’ll get the 3rd pick in the draft next year.” If his stock drops or if there is talent that rivals Bryant for being a top pick again he could end up cost himself millions. Not worried just yet. Boras being Boras and playing hardball

  13. Brandon

    Just because $6mil is not enough, he really needs that extra $ or he will not sign,if he doesn’t and that’s the reason why he is out of his tree!! So, he should be with the Cougers by third week of July.

  14. Stevie B

    ******SWEAR WORD ALERT******* *BEWARE ALL UNDER AGE AND SENSITIVE MEMBERS****

    FUCK Scott Boras. Overslot my ass. I swear I’ll be content to move on if he demands more than slot.
    Not kidding…If we bend and give in, I’ll be hyper pissed off.

    1. caryatid62

      Well that’s silly.

  15. Rebuilding

    I take this article as a good sign. It obviously came from the Boras/Bryant camp. Leaking indicates weakness

  16. Kevin

    Those of you who said I was wet behind my ears making comments about Boras taking the Cubs for a ride……..think again, and please, this time, have some respect in your response.

    1. Kyle

      That doesn’t sound like the sort of verbiage I’d use, but if you think Bryant isn’t signing and signing to reasonable terms, then I disagree politely. This is all just bluster.

    2. Luke

      Absolutely no way the Cubs would have taken Bryant at No 2 if they were not comfortable with what he was demanding.

      This is pretty much the script as last year with Almora, and that signing was never in doubt either.

      The only questions are when he’ll sign and where he will be playing at the end of the year.

      1. Jp3

        I’m with you Luke that we knew comfortably what it would take but if July 10th rolls in and everyone is still very fAr apart my blood will start to boil. Either we were double crossed by a savvy agent or we were incredibly negligent in what he wanted.

        1. Luke

          July 11th could roll around and Boras could be holding press conference every hour on the hour proclaiming that Bryant won’t sign for less than a trillion dollars and an Imperial Star Destroyer and I still wouldn’t be worried.

          When the deadline hits, Bryant will be a Cub.

          1. Die hard

            Not so sure as he may hit better at night or may not want to play in cold April and May or may want a winning tradition etc.. Money may be second… Or maybe Boras demanded release of Stewart in which case you are right

            1. Luke

              Cubs would have known any and all of that in advance. They had months to scout this guy and weeks to meet with him. And they did. A couple of times that we know of.

              And Stewart, despite your fascination with that particular bit of nonsense, had nothing to do with any of it.

              1. Die hard

                He would hit a ton at White Sox park too.. And they have a great scoreboard already … You may be right

          2. Jp3

            I feel like its a game of chicken though and in the process he’s also holding us hostage on signing some other players but you’re right, I too believe ultimately he’ll sign the dotted line.

            1. Serious Cubs Fan

              Cubs should negotiate possible deals with player to lay out the money being signed for. Wait for till the deadline and Boras/Bryant to blink and they concede to the Cubs contract demands and then they can ink those overslot guys on that last day. You have to play hardball with Boras

      2. Rebuilding

        I have absolutely no doubt that Bryant will sign. However, as I said before I believe he was the top player on both the Astros and Cubs draft boards. They have said over and over they want position players that high. I honestly think Epstein and Hoyer were shocked when he was still there. There was that looooong, strange delay to the Cubs pick. I would imagine there was a bit of scrambling to try and determine how much he was demanding from the Astros for them to pass him up, but I bet they made the pick slightly blind

        1. Luke

          I doubt it. The Cubs almost certainly had conversations will all of their possible choices at No 2 (Appel, Bryant, Gray, and maybe Moran) in the weeks in advance of the draft. Regardless of what Houston did, they would have been prepared.

          1. Rebuilding

            Not really sure how that conversation would go. I see how that works with the #1 pick but not the #2. thats a totally contingent negotiation where neither side can promise anything. So, I know you think your guy should go #1 but if he slips to #2 what would you take? Why would Boras reveal that? If the Cubs leaked it it would hurt his negotiating power with Houston.

            From what I’ve heard Houston was negotiating with Bryant and he wouldn’t come down…Appel finally did

            1. Rebuilding

              Just as supporting evidence – the seeming confusion and delay with the Cubs pick and the fact that Bryant is pretty much the only first rounder that hasn’t signed

              1. Luke

                Almora was just about the last first rounder to sign last year.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Agreed I’m not worried- he’s just holding out for the absolute top dollar he can get. There are signings that still haven’t had dollars released so everything is about just how much of the pie he can still get. Worse case is we don’t sign one of our lower picks but he will sign but it won’t be till just before the deadline. It will all work out. We did this same dance with Almora.

                  1. Rebuilding

                    Like I said, no doubt he’ll sign. There is absolutely no advantage to him going back to school. Totally different scenario than Appel last year. My guess is that it will be for slightly more than Appel so he will have “won” the negotiation when it comes to the Astros and Boras gets victory on both guys. Because the Cubs would have given Appel far less

                    1. Luke

                      I suspect that the Cubs and Bryant have already agreed to a base figure + whatever of the 5% is leftover. That looks very much like what the Cubs did last year with Almora, and given that the agent is the same I don’t doubt they’d go back to that plan again.

                      If that is the case, the Cubs will sign Bryant once they have all their other picks locked down and know how much of that 5% is left. That likely wont’ be until a few days before the deadline.

                      In the meantime, if Boras is playing of the same script as last year, we should be getting some Bryant comments/tweets/leaks about how much he is looking forward to going back to college in the next week or so.

                    2. MichiganGoat

                      Precisely Luke… It’s all part of the dance lets not fall for the game.

                    3. Rebuilding

                      Maybe. But what if the Cubs sign a tough sign for $700,000. Bryant is just going to say oh ok? He has a number

                    4. Luke

                      Bryant’s number would be that base figure. He wouldn’t lose anything.

  17. Willie Smith

    so Gray already signed for 4.8M………….

    if Bryant does not sign……………..new GM!

    case closed.

    (can’t be “re-building and losing on purpose”) and not signing picks; something’s gotta give.

    1. chirogerg

      honestly, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Could get Ty Beede/Trea Turner/Carlos Rodon with a #3 pick next year. I’d definitely rather have Rodon than Bryant if that could happen

  18. Cheryl

    The cubs can refuse to go beyond the parameters of the deal they originally discussed with Boras and it will turn out to be Bryant’s loss. He probably won’t be a number 2 pick next year and the loss of money for him will be on Boras’ head

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