MESA, Ariz. — Are the mega-extensions given to Nolan Arenado and Mike Trout this year an indication that Kris Bryant might stay with the Cubs once his contract is up at the end of the 2021 season?
“If everybody keeps signing extensions, there’s going to be no free agents,” Bryant said Tuesday after it was reported that the Angels and Trout were finalizing a 12-year, $432 million extension. “So maybe if I’m the only one, more teams will want me.”
Bryant didn’t take anything away from Trout, a two-time league MVP, receiving such a payday.
“He deserves every penny of it and more,” Bryant said. “The guy has been the best player in baseball, is probably one of the best baseball players ever, so I don’t even think there’s anything to question about him signing that deal.”
Trout’s record-breaking extension — worth $102 million more than what the Phillies gave free agent Bryce Harper — came three weeks after Arenado got an eight-year, $260 million extension with the Rockies. Arenado and Bryant are considered the top two third basemen in the National League, if not the majors.
“It’s good to see it going this way,” Bryant said. “Everybody is making money at the end of the day.”
Assuming Bryant returns to form with a healthy shoulder this season, he could put himself on a similar track. He’s due to make $12.9 million in 2019, with three seasons left on his current contract. He said he’d like to play his entire major-league career with the Cubs.
“Anytime you can show a loyalty to the team that drafted you and you came up with and you established a relationship with all these people — I mean, any human being would want to do that,” he said. “It’s no secret that everybody in this clubhouse loves playing in Chicago, we love everything about the organization, so everybody in this clubhouse would want to finish his career with this team, myself included.”
Bryant is the Cubs’ union representative and has been more outspoken over the last few months about perceived salary suppression. He previously has turned down modest extension proposals from the Cubs, though he has said they haven’t approached him about an extension this winter or spring. He’s represented by agent Scott Boras, who historically takes his marquee clients to free agency.
As policy, the Cubs don’t discuss their contract intentions concerning any players. Other extension candidates, such as right-hander Kyle Hendricks and shortstop Javy Baez, haven’t been approached about their contracts, either.
“I don’t think there’s been any talks about anybody,” Bryant said. “It’s just a different period for us this year.”
Said team president Theo Epstein: “We’re just focused on this year and playing winning baseball.”
That works for Bryant, who’s trying to tune out the extension speculation.
“I’ve always been really good at just focusing on the season at hand and not getting too ahead of myself,” he said. “It’d be a disservice to everyone here and the fans if I’m starting to think of my whole future. I want to focus on winning this year because last year didn’t go the way we wanted to and I want to do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen again so I’m 100 percent here this season. And that’s all that matters to me.”