With deadline looming, will Cubs’ Kris Bryant break MLB’s $10M arbitration mark?

The deadline for major-league teams to exchange salary-arbitration numbers with their eligible players is today at noon.

The Cubs have already struck, signing left-hander Justin Wilson to a one-year, $4.25 million contract. Wilson will be eligible for free agency after the 2018 season.

And that brings us to the Cubs and Kris Bryant … and what could become a record deal.

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FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2017, file photo, Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper, left, laughs with Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant at Nationals Park in Washington, the day before Game 1 of a National League Division Series. Harper and Bryant are expected to continue their star performances in 2018. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

Bryant — the 2016 National League MVP — is arbitration-eligible for the first time. Coming off a 2017 season when he hit .295 with 29 home runs and 73 RBI (and earned $1.05 million), Bryant could break the arbitration bank.

The arbitration record for a first-year-eligible player was set in 2008, when the Phillies’ Ryan Howard landed a $10 million deal. (The overall arbitration record was set Friday, when the Blue Jays settled at $23 million with Josh Donaldson.)

The question is whether Bryant, 26, will break that record 10 years later.

Our friends at MLBTradeRumors.com made a compelling case for Bryant today and their analysis found that Bryant will likely fall short of the Howard benchmark at $9.88 million. (Check out their complete post.)

Team insiders are buzzing with speculation that a Bryant contract could be announced during the Cubs Convention that starts Friday and runs through Sunday.

Here’s something to keep in mind as we are watching MLB owners pay exceedingly close attention to their payrolls: Howard went from making $900,000 to landing a $10 million payday.

And Howard was nearly a year older than Bryant when he set his record.

For context, the Cubs paid Bryant the $1.05 million in 2017, just enough to give him the record for a player with zero to three years of service.

Not only is agent Scott Boras going to push to break Howard’s $10 million record, but the Cubs are expected to give him a bit over $10 million to keep their franchise player happy.

It’s your move, Cubs.

 

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