By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cubs and all MLB teams face a Friday deadline to tender contracts for the 2018 season to their arbitration-eligible players.
If contracts aren’t extended to such players, they immediately become free agents. The Cubs have seven arbitration-eligible players this offseason, four for the first time. The list is headlined by 2016 National League MVP Kris Bryant, who will likely approach the record payment for first-year arbitration-eligible players that was set with Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard’s $10 million figure in 2008.
The other arbitration-eligible Cubs are reliever Hector Rondon, reliever Justin Wilson, reliever Justin Grimm, right-hander Kyle Hendricks, shortstop Addison Russell and infielder Tommy La Stella.
The Cubs have tried to sign their talented group of young stars to long-term contracts before they reach their arbitration years and eventual free-agent status, but so far they haven’t agreed on any such deals in this era of championship contention. The Cubs did sign star first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a seven-year, $41-million deal prior to the 2013 season, a contract that has saved the franchise millions.
Rondon and Grimm may be on the bubble when it comes to tendering contracts. Rondon was the team’s closer in 2015 and started the 2016 season in the same spot, but he struggled with a 4.24 ERA in 2017. He made $5.8 million last season and would likely receive around $6 million in 2018 via the arbitration process. Grimm made 50 appearances for the Cubs but was off his game with a 5.53 ERA that necessitated trips to Triple-A. He made $1.825 million in 2017 and is expected to receive around $2.5 million should be go through arbitration.
Wilson is arbitration-eligible for a third time. He made $2.7 million in 2017.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.