Third watch: Nolan Arenado’s mega-extension $ets bar for Cubs with Kris Bryant

SHARE Third watch: Nolan Arenado’s mega-extension $ets bar for Cubs with Kris Bryant

Tag, you’re it. Now that Arenado (right) has signed a $260 million extension with the Rockies, what does that do for Bryant’s market value?

MESA, Ariz. — The massive contract extension third baseman Nolan Arenado agreed to this week with the Rockies might as well have been a fastball to the ribs of the Cubs’ baseball-operations piggy bank.

If nothing else, it seems to make the already-long odds of signing Kris Bryant to an extension even longer — and certainly a far more expensive proposition.

Arenado, an elite fielder and slugger with four All-Star appearances but no MVP or Rookie of the Year award, got an eight-year, $260 million extension.

Talk about setting a bar for a player such as Bryant, who has a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a World Series ring, two All-Star selections and a higher career OPS (.900) than Arenado (.886).

‘‘Yeah, totally,’’ said Bryant, who will make $12.9 million in 2019 with three seasons remaining before free agency. ‘‘You always look at what the other people at your position do in terms of their contracts, and you compare yourself accordingly.

‘‘Obviously, Nolan’s a great player. He’s been doing it for a long time, super-consistent, tons of passion playing the game. So it’s nice to see another third baseman sign for that much.’’

Bryant, who became the Cubs’ union representative last season, has been outspoken since then about the sudden slowdown in free agency the last two winters and about service-time manipulation, which cost him a year before he’s eligible for free agency.

Bryant has been approached about a long-term extension by the front office in recent years, but talks went nowhere, and he has said he’s not afraid to go year-by-year through the arbitration process. That doesn’t mean that he holds any grudges or that he won’t listen.

‘‘I’ve said I will listen to anything they have to say,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘It’d be silly not to. I’d be dumb not to hear anything they had to offer. But right now it seems they’re not willing to do that because they haven’t gotten anybody new [or spent on extensions]. And that’s OK, too.’’


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Bryant said he hasn’t been approached this winter about an extension.

Infielder Javy Baez, the runner-up for the MVP award last season, and right-hander Kyle Hendricks said the same thing in recent days.

Asked whether he thinks the free-agency slowdown, coupled with the Arenado signing, might influence other players to sign extensions, Bryant said: ‘‘Sure. But I think you look at Nolan’s, and that’s basically a free-agency deal.

‘‘But you look at [free-agent outfielder] Bryce [Harper], and he’s going to break whatever Nolan got. Obviously, that’s kind of why he’s still waiting. It just depends on the kind of person you are. If you want to wait, you wait; if you don’t, you don’t. That’s what it comes down to.’’

Harper and Bryant are represented by agent Scott Boras, who routinely takes his top clients to free agency, typically seeking market-setting deals.

Harper is expected to make a decision this week about where he’ll play in 2019, with the Phillies long considered the favorites and the Dodgers and Giants reportedly still involved.

The other top free agent this winter, infielder Manny Machado, signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres last week.

That’s just one more indication to Bryant of how robust the industry is as a whole and how strange that makes some teams’ spending behavior look. It also might be why an increasing number of players, including Bryant, have spoken out about a possible labor fight on the horizon.

‘‘It just goes to show that the teams that you don’t expect to have the money do,’’ he said. ‘‘Nobody expected the Padres to do this, but they did. And I heard they’re still talking about Bryce.

‘‘Everybody has money. We’re not stupid. We see the price of the tickets, the price of the memorabilia — everything, TV deals. There’s a lot of money in this game.’’

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