Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant Earns Record Pre-Arbitration Salary

The Chicago Cubs will pay Kris Bryant $1.05 million this season, a record for a player with his amount of major league service time.

It turns out winning the MVP award in your second big league season pays major dividends. The Chicago Cubs have signed Kris Bryant to a $1.05 million contract for 2017, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal is a record for a player with two years of MLB service time.

The 25-year-old Bryant isn’t the only pre-arbitration player to cash in this offseason. As Heyman notes, Red Sox outfielder (and AL MVP runner-up) Mookie Betts secured a $950,000 salary earlier this week. The previous record for a player with two years’ service time under their belt was set by Mike Trout, who netted a $1 million payday from the Angels in 2014.

After Bryant’s resounding first two seasons with the Cubs, it would have been hard to justify him receiving even a penny less. He earned the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2015, slashing .275/.369/.488 with 26 home runs and 99 RBI to run away with the prize.

Sophomore slump? No way. In 2016, Bryant improved on his debut campaign in virtually every respect, producing a .292/.385/.554 line while bashing 39 homers (good for third in the NL) and driving in 102 runs. Perhaps most impressively, Bryant addressed the main criticism levied against him the year before, trimming his strikeout rate from 31 to 22 percent.

Other young pre-arbitration stars haven’t been as fortunate getting paid recently, however. Last week the Mets renewed the contract of hard-throwing right-hander Noah Syndergaard at $605,000. Meanwhile, 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa got $536,500 from the Astros – the major league minimum. Both figures raised some eyebrows around the league considering the performance level of the players involved.

All these players stand to receive substantial pay increases once they reach arbitration, though. For Bryant, that comes next year and it should be interesting to see how much he gets in light of the high bar the Cubs have set at this point in the process.

Bryant is currently eligible for free agency after the 2021 season, and that’s when the real fun might begin. The Cubs will almost surely attempt to sign him to a long-term deal before then, but with Scott Boras as his agent, the open market will be very tempting.

For now, Bryant will look to keep padding his already prodigious resume, while the Cubs hope to win another world championship with him and the rest of their talented young core intact.