For the second straight year, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant set a new financial benchmark for players with less than three years’ service time.
Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP and World Series MVP, agreed to a one-year, $10.85 million deal, eclipsing Ryan Howard’s $10 million deal in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies for first-time arbitration-eligible players, the Cubs announced on Friday.
“I guess for some players it might be stressful, but I really enjoyed the whole process of it,” Bryant said before the start of the team’s annual fan convention. “You play to get to this point in your career, and I’ve put in so much hard work behind the scenes to get to this point. It just feels so rewarding.”
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Bryant, who finished seventh in NL MVP voting last season, hit .295 with 29 homers and a .946 OPS and helped the Cubs advance to the NL Championship Series in 2017.
Last year, the Cubs paid Bryant $1.05 million, which broke Mike Trout’s record by $50,000 for a pre-arbitration-eligible player.
“I don’t look at money records,” Bryant said. “I guess the records on the field are way more important, because when you’re doing that, you know, you’re helping the team. But it really is a cherry on top when you get paid millions of dollars to do something that you’ve loved since you were 4 years old.”
Bryant doesn’t become a free agent until after 2021 partially because the Cubs opted to start him in the minors for the first few weeks of the 2015 season, which cost him a year of service time.
The Cubs also agreed to terms with shortstop Addison Russell ($3.2 million), LHP Justin Wilson ($4.25 million), pitcher Kyle Hendricks ($4.175 million) and infielder Tommy La Stella ($950,000).
Reliever Justin Grimm remains the only unsigned arbitration-eligible player on the Cubs.
Bryant has 2 years, 171 days of service time, so he was designated a “super two” player this winter – a small group of players with more than two but less than three years of service who would be granted a fourth year of arbitration eligibility.