We speculated that this could be the case when the final figure came out, and sure enough, Kris Bryant’s contract for 2017 will be a record-breaker:
sources: Kris Bryant sets record for 2nd year player, tops Trout, signs for $1.05M. cubs very fair with young players.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 9, 2017
I know. You’re thinking that doesn’t sound like much. But remember, Bryant, with under two full years of service time, is not even yet in his arbitration years. Thus, the Cubs can actually pay him any amount they choose, so long as it’s over the big league minimum of $535,000. This deal, then, is actually enormous for a pre-arbitration player. As Heyman points out, the contract breaks the record set by Mike Trout a few years ago, at an even $1 million.
With a Rookie of the Year award and an MVP award under his belt already, Bryant is one of the best players in baseball, and is deserving of a unique spot in recent contractual history.
With the $1.05 million contract on the books for 2017, Bryant is now set up for some very lucrative trips through arbitration in the next four seasons (he’ll be a Super Two player, eligible for four trips through arbitration, rather than just three). Because arbitration considers – in addition to performance and precedent – a player’s past salary, this deal actually will wind up making Bryant extra dollars in each of the next four years, not just 2017.
Not every team treats their pre-arbitration stars this way, but, for the Cubs, it’s better to reward the players and engender goodwill, even if it costs a little more money down the line.
And now Bryant can look forward to breaking more records in future years. Unless the Cubs sign him to an extension before that, of course.