Everyone knows next year will be one of the hottest free-agency markets of recent history.
Two names: Manny Machado, Bryce Harper.
We are talking about a potential billion dollars worth of deals between those two players.
It’s pretty clear those two are going to the best teams in the MLB with the most money. I predict Machado to the Yankees (or maybe White Sox) and, well, I’m praying Harper to the Cubs.
The Cubs just signed Yu Darvish the other day to a 6 yr/$126 million contract.
So, now the question begs,
Will the Cubs still be able to afford a Harper-type contract?
Well, I got out my protractor out and went to town. I crunched the numbers ‘til the sun came up.
Being the GM that I am, and thanks to my friends at Baseball Reference, I looked over the Cubs contract situation and it won’t be easy to put it lightly.
To start it off, I’ll give you a little background on the contract situation. Lester, Zobrist and Heyward are untouchables. Their contracts are huge.
Did the Cubs overpay for Heyward? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. They bring just enough value to the team to make up for their gargantuan salaries.
Lester’s contract breakdown follows as so. He is owed $27.5 million over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, $20 million in 2020 and $10 million in 2021. Yikes.
Heyward’s contract is $28.17 mil this year, 20 the next, and 84 million over the next four. Bigger Yikes. Yeah, I already know what you’re thinking holy crap did they drop the ball on that one. Heyward’s contract is the most team unfriendly, but there is no question he is getting better and still one of the top corner outfielders in the league.
Zobrist is owed $16.5 mil this year and 12.5 the next. Now, let’s get to the big question.
Will the Cubs be able to re-sign Kris Bryant and Addison Russell and still sign Bryce Harper.
Bryant and Russell are up for arbitration these next three years since their rookie contracts are coming to a close. Both signed handsome bonuses after bringing the North side it’s first World Series in 108 years, but now that’s up.
So, what does this mean? The Cubs have to get rid of one of them, and I promise you it will not be Kris Bryant. Expect the Cubs to shop around Addy this season and help them bolster their farm system that has produced some of the best young talent currently in the game.
Darvish’s contract is going to average $21 million a year, for a 31 year-old pitcher, over six years. It HAS to be win now and by signing Darvish, it is.
If the Cubs shopped Addison Russell this offseason, not only would they get a good deal from whatever team he’s dealt to, it would be one less person the Cubs would have to deal with in Arbitration. For the Cubs to convince Bryant to take a team friendly contract in order to bring in Harper would be much more likely than Russell.
Harper and Bryant have been good friends since Little League in Las Vegas and have been hanging out a lot this offseason so I would expect him to be more lenient on his contract situation, in order to sign one of the best players in the league. I also expect if Harper does decide to come to the Cubs, that he will take less money in order to be on the team he chooses. This could be huge for the Cubs who are already stacked on major contracts.
I know that sending Addy away is not ideal as he’s only been in the league for 3 years and is already one of the best young shortstops in the game. He’s coming off a year last year where he underperformed due to injury and a domestic violence accusation. After getting through both obstacles he had a good postseason with 5 hits, 2 doubles and 5 RBI’s in 10 games.
Opening up the shortstop position could give a guy like Javy Baez, who is under team control, the chance to show what he has at the spot and give Ian Happ a chance to play his natural position at second base. This could be a very good thing for the Cubs because they would have a very good young infield.
Happ and Baez up the middle could become a dynamic duo in the making. Heyward in center, Zobrist in right and Schwarber in left would be a very slow outfield. It would put a lot more pressure on Heyward, but defense is his specialty and he has thrived in center when he’s had to fill in.
Obviously that would be a one year option if the Cubs decided to go after Harper next year.
Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper on the same team again? Watch out MLB.