MVP Kris Bryant, Cubs agree on pre-arbitration record salary
MESA, Ariz. — After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2015 and being named the National League MVP last season, third baseman Kris Bryant received a $1.05 million deal for 2017, a record for a player who has not reached arbitration eligibility.
The Angels’ Mike Trout held the previous record at $1 million in 2014.
Teams have power to dictate salary terms for players who have not reached arbitration, as long as they meet the major-league minimum, which is $535,000 this year.
Bryant, whose big-league debut was delayed in 2015 to preserve an additional year of club control before free agency, hit .292 with 39 home runs and a .939 OPS. He also has an .843 OPS with five homers — and a World Series title — in 26 career postseason games. Bryant’s salary last year was $652,000.
Bryant was one of 25 pre-arbitration-eligible players on the Cubs to receive a new contract.
Other notable deals: Cy Young Award finalist Kyle Hendricks ($760,500), All-Star shortstop Addison Russell ($644,000), NL Championship Series co-MVP Javy Baez ($609,000) and World Series hero Kyle Schwarber ($565,500).
Manager Joe Maddon seemed amused by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s shot at the Cubs and their manager-led penchant for slogans and T-shirts.
“I think we have T-shirts somewhere that say something about winning at home,” Matheny said.
When told Thursday about the Matheny salvo, Maddon laughed.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” said Maddon, who was asked about his thoughts if the Cardinals started making T-shirts.
“If it goes to anybody’s foundation, I’ll be happy to purchase some,” said Maddon, who’s “Try Not to Suck” T-shirt line was banned briefly from the Cards’ stadium last year.
Maddon won’t help Matheny with any slogan ideas. Not even the obvious, “Try Not to Suck at Home.”
“No, not at all,” Maddon said. “We’re saturated here with korkedbaseball.com. That’s where you can buy ours. We’ve got some new stuff coming out that I think’s pretty good.”
Two spring appearances was all setup man Hector Rondon needed to formally accept Team Venezuela’s invitation to pitch in the World Baseball Classic.
“Now I’m for sure. I feel really good and I’m ready,” Rondon said Thursday.
Rondon, who would join the Venezuelans next week in San Diego assuming they advance from first-round pool play, held off making a decision until he determined how he felt during the first half of camp.
Pitchers are the bigger risk for big-league teams with players in the WBC. Rondon is the only pitcher on the Cubs’ projected opening roster to participate.
After he spent time on the DL last year (triceps), the Cubs had the right to keep him out of the tournament.
“If he pitches the semifinals and finals, he has our blessing,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.
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