The Cubs made an attempt to lock up Kris Bryant to a multiyear deal in the neighborhood of $200 million, but the superstar third baseman turned down the deal in recent months, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Wednesday. ESPN's Dave Kaplan was the first to report the offer and its rejection. The club has not confirmed such an offer.
Bryant and agent Scott Boras are inclined to proceed on a year-by-year salary increase through arbitration before Bryant becomes a free agent after the 2021 season. Bryant earned a record $10.85 million in 2018, the highest salary a player has earned in his first year of arbitration.
Should Bryant plan to wait out his final four years of club control and hit the free-agent market available to all suitors, the Cubs could face a quandary of losing Bryant for nothing. In that context, Bryant might be a valuable trade commodity as former National League MVP Award winner who is under club control for three more seasons. Bryant, when healthy, is revered as one of the game's best hitters, but he was limited to 102 games last year with nagging left shoulder and left wrist injuries, and he hit .272/.374/.460 -- all below his career average marks -- with 13 homers.
After an abrupt and disappointing end to their 95-win season, in which the Cubs lost in Game 163 to the Brewers to determine the NL Central champion and the NL Wild Card Game to the Rockies at Wrigley Field, the Cubs are entering an offseason in territory they haven't been accustomed to after three straight NL Championship Series appearances. And manager Joe Maddon's status was questioned last Wednesday in a report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal for The Athletic, though the team said later that afternoon that Maddon would return for 2019.