Kyle Hendricks (2020), Jose Quintana (2020), Javy Baez (2021), Kris Bryant (2021), Anthony Rizzo (2021), Kyle Schwarber (2021), Willson Contreras (2022), Albert Almora Jr. (2022), Ian Happ (2023) …
Those are the (relatively) young members of the Cubs “core,” with the final year of each player’s Cubs control in parentheses. To spin it differently, those are the players the Cubs might want to consider extending, and by when they’d need to make it happen. It’s the time of year when extensions frequently happen, and the current market has made it a particularly good time for teams and players to get together on new deals.
I’m not going to go into the merits or likelihood of each guy signing an extension with the Cubs, as we did that just one week ago (so check it out and come back, if you’re curious). But I do have a modest update to share on this front. Good news, at that!
Enter Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. “There’s no question, we’ve tried to extend a lot of these players over the last few years and haven’t gotten anything done,” Hoyer said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show. “Do we want to have some of these players – their contracts are up after ’20 or ’21 – do we want to extend them? Absolutely, we’d be crazy not to. We’ll continue having that dialogue.”
Hoyer conceded that the Cubs will always do their best to keep these discussions under wraps – that’s really best for them and the players, despite our desire to know every little detail – but did end with an, “Of course these are player that we hope we can keep long-term.”
Thus, no, we don’t have any new extensions to announce, and, yes, Hoyer said that they’d be keeping a tight lid on any discussions that do happen, BUT we learned a bit. We’ve had it confirmed that the Cubs have tried to extend some of these players in the past and continue to be interested in making such a deal. It also seems to me that guys like Ian Happ, Albert Almora, and, to an extent, Willson Contreras aren’t necessarily the focus right now, considering how much longer they have under contract.
But we can suss out a little more from Hoyer’s comments than just that. Later in the interview, Hoyer revealed two more notable bits of information: (1) The stale free agent market has “definitely” gotten players talking about and thinking about extensions more than they have in the past (ding-ding-ding), and (2) the Cubs’ past discussions with whomever they tried to extend didn’t result in proposals so far apart that there’s no point in continuing.
The first point is something we’ve discussed a lot this Spring, with the flurry of seemingly team-friendly extensions across baseball (besides Nolan Arenado). But the second point is another good sign. “Any time you have ongoing discussions, it’s a positive,” Hoyer said. “… sometimes you’re close and being that close can allow you at some point in the future to rekindle that.”
Obviously there’s nothing super concrete to latch onto here, but these comments could have easily been a lot less encouraging. As far as I’m concerned, the Cubs (1) want to extend some of the more talented members of their core, (2) have already begun those negotiations, and (3) aren’t so far apart that they can’t keep the lines open, working off the foundation that’s already been laid.
Given the radio silence we’ve mostly heard until now on this front, that’s all pretty exciting news.