Extension? Kris Bryant likes incentives, prefers to ‘play it out’
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BOSTON — Talk to Cubs star Kris Bryant about things such as contract extensions, and he might bring up his track record of thriving when he has incentives to chase.
It goes back to grade school, when his parents would give him $100 for every report card with straight A’s and his grandparents would give him $20 for every Little League home run.
He got one B in his life, so a typical academic haul for a four-report-card year was $400.
Bryant said he hit 19 homers in his last year of Little League, then played travel ball and added a bunch more.
‘‘I probably made $500,’’ he said, smiling. ‘‘I was a rich elementary-schooler. I was doing well. I like the incentives.’’
So when the Cubs reached out to Bryant, the reigning National League MVP, and agent Scott Boras before the season about a possible long-term extension, it was probably an exaggeration even to refer to the inquiry as ‘‘talks.’’
Bryant, who will make $1.05 million — a record for a pre-arbitration player — this year, will reach the first of four arbitration winters after this season. He will be eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.
‘‘I guess it’s a little early,’’ said Bryant, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a homer in the fifth inning Sunday. ‘‘I still feel super-young. I’m still getting used to all of this playing at this level. I’ll listen to whatever they have to say, but I just think that it might be in my best interest to just play it out and see where things go.’’
Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor (six years, $49.5 million) and Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (six years, $53 million) were among several players at similar service-time levels who signed extensions before the season. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor conspicuously did not, turning down a reported $100 million deal.
‘‘I’d rather just now focus on baseball and playing and not have any other distractions off the field like that,’’ Bryant said. ‘‘Just because it’ll take away from my play on the field.’’
Infielder Javy Baez had a rare day on the bench with a left-hander starting for the opponent, but manager Joe Maddon said it had less to do with Baez’s recent struggles than the fact Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez fares well against right-handed hitters.
Baez is 4-for-24 with 11 strikeouts in his last seven games.
‘‘I swear I’m not worried,’’ said Maddon, who indicated his bigger concern about Baez involves potential emotional fatigue after the 2016 postseason and the World Baseball Classic in March.
This and that
Maddon said pitching coach Chris Bosio is expected to rejoin the Cubs for the series opener Monday against the Phillies at Wrigley Field after he missed the last two series for personal reasons.
• Asked for his thoughts after watching 22-year-old Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Maddon said: ‘‘I’m not afraid to say it: That’s Freddie Lynn reincarnated right there.’’
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