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Bryant sets 1st-year arbitration record

Former MVP signs for $10.85 million; Cubs also avoid arbitration with 4 others
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

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

Shortstop Addison Russell, pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Justin Wilson and infielder Tommy La Stella also agreed to one-year deals. Right-hander Justin Grimm did not agree to a new contract after the two sides exchanged salary figures.

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

Shortstop Addison Russell, pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Justin Wilson and infielder Tommy La Stella also agreed to one-year deals. Right-hander Justin Grimm 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.

Video: CHC@WSH Gm1: Hendricks fans six over seven scoreless

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.

Video: CHC@STL: Wilson catches DeJong looking to end the 8th

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.

Video: CHC@STL: La Stella lines pinch-hit RBI double to gap

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.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant, Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, Addison Russell, Tommy La Stella, Justin Wilson