Bryant sets 1st-year arbitration record

Former MVP signs for $10.85 million; Cubs also avoid arbitration with 4 others

January 12th, 2018

CHICAGO -- The Cubs on Friday avoided arbitration with five players, including third baseman , who signed for $10.85 million, a record for a first-year arbitration-eligible player.

Shortstop , pitchers and  and infielder also agreed to one-year deals. Right-hander did not agree to a new contract after the two sides exchanged salary figures.

Bryant's raise topped Ryan Howard's record salary for a first-year arbitration-eligible player. Howard, who, like Bryant, earned National League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Award honors in his first two seasons, received $10 million in 2008.

"[Bryant] earned it," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Friday on the first day of the Cubs Convention. "He's going to set a lot of records in his day. I'm more excited about the ones on the field. This is a well-deserved and appropriate salary and I'm sure he'll put it to good use helping the team win."

Bryant, 26, who won those awards in 2015 and '16, respectively, received a big boost from his '17 salary of $1.05 million. Last season, Bryant hit .295 with 29 homers, 38 doubles and 73 RBIs, and finished seventh in the MVP balloting.

"For some players it might be stressful, but I really enjoyed the whole process," Bryant said. "You play to get to this point in your career and I put so much hard work behind the scenes to get to this point, it just feels so rewarding."

Russell agreed to a $3.2 million contract, Hendricks -- who started Game 1 of the 2017 NL Division Series -- finalized a one-year, $4.175 million contract, and Wilson signed a $4.25 million deal. It's a significant pay raise for Hendricks, who made $760,500 last season when he went 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 24 starts, missing time because of a right hand injury.

Wilson, 30, who will be a free agent after this season, posted a 5.09 ERA in 23 outings with the Cubs compared to a 2.68 ERA in 42 games with the Tigers. The lefty made $2.7 million last season.

A key left-handed bat off the bench, La Stella, who turns 29 on Jan. 31, batted .288 in 73 games last season. He agreed to a $950,000 contract after making $573,000 in 2017.

Bryant, Russell, Hendricks and La Stella were all first-year arbitration-eligible. This was Grimm's second year and Wilson's third year.

The Cubs offered Grimm $2.2 million, and Grimm's agents countered at $2.475 million. The two sides can continue talks, but if no agreement is reached, an arbitrator will determine Grimm's salary for 2018 at a hearing between Jan. 29 and Feb. 16. Friday marked the deadline for players and teams to exchange salary figures.