By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Coming off an MVP season, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has set a new financial standard.
The Cubs and Bryant agreed to a $1.05 million salary for him in the 2017 season, which sets a pre-arbitration record. It tops the $1 million that Angels outfielder Mike Trout received ahead of the 2014 season. The question now is whether the Cubs and Bryant could agree on a long-term deal down the line that could easily exceed $200 million. It was during that same 2014 season that Trout signed a monster six-year, $144-million deal with the Angels.
Bryant has been as good as any player in baseball since making his MLB debut in April 2015. He won Rookie of the Year that season, then followed it up with an MVP season in 2016, when he hit .292 with 35 homers, 102 RBIs, a league-best 121 runs and a .939 OPS. At 25, he has the look and makeup of a generational player.
In 2013, the Cubs stayed ahead of the curve by with another franchise player in first baseman Anthony Rizzo, signing him to a seven-year, $41-million extension. That’s well under market value now, as Rizzo is a three-time All-Star who could garner at least three times that money on the open market.
The amiable Bryant is represented by powerful agent Scott Boras, who also represents many of the game’s stars. Preceding Bryant’s contract speculation will be that of Nationals star outfielder Bryce Harper, who’s on track for free agency after the 2018 season.
Bryant was one of 25 players with zero to three years of experience whom the Cubs agreed to terms with Thursday in procedural news. Among the others were right-hander Kyle Hendricks, shortstop Addison Russell, infielder Javier Baez, catcher Willson Contreras, outfielder Kyle Schwarber and outfielder Albert Almora.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.