Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant not discussing extension yet

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant could easily receive an extension worth north of $100 million, but the reigning National League MVP isn’t ready to discuss one yet.

When the Chicago Cubs front office reached out to Kris Bryant earlier this year to discuss the possibility of an extension, the third baseman felt it was much too early to consider the possibility, as reported by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times.

Wittenmyer noted that Bryant’s reluctance stems back to his youth, when he thrived under incentive-laden scenarios. In his younger years, Bryant would receive $100 from his parents for every report card with straight A’s, and another $20 from his grandparents for every home run he hit.

Bryant only got one B in his life, so he’d usually receive the full $400 for a four-report-card year. In his last year of Little League, Bryant hit 19 home runs and several more when he moved onto travel ball.

”I probably made $500,” Bryant told Wittenmyer. ”I was a rich elementary-schooler. I was doing well. I like the incentives.”

Bryant, who has four years of arbitration remaining, will make $1.05 million this year – a record for a pre-arbitration player. He’s eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.

”I guess it’s a little early,” Bryant said via Wittenmyer. ”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.”

Last season, Bryant broke out for 39 home runs, a .292 batting average and a .939 OPS after hitting 26 homers with a .858 OPS in the 2015 season. Now 25, Bryant is headed toward similar numbers. A .289 average with a .907 OPS and four homers put him on pace for a similarly productive campaign. With increased walks and a slight decrease in strikeouts, Bryant’s star will only continue to rise.

Wittenmyer noted that Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor – who signed a six-year, $49.5 million extension – and Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier – six years, $53 million – were two of the most notable players at service time levels to sign extensions last year. Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, whose star and productivity is close to Bryant’s, turned down a $100 million extension.

”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.”

More from Call to the Pen

It’s difficult to imagine the type of contract Bryant will sign, simply because no hitter of his prominence has entered free agency in the last few offseasons. But with contracts growing increasingly large, it’s clear that Bryant will likely garner a record-breaking deal whenever he decides to sign.

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