Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available.
Star Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant enters arbitration for the first time with a compelling case to compete with historical records. The current record for first time eligible players still goes all the way back to Ryan Howard in 2008, who earned $10MM after a 47 home run season that brought his career total to 129 home runs. While that price point is now ten years old, it is still an unbroken record. Buster Posey got close with $8MM, but that is already five years old.
Those two players share something in common with Bryant and no one else: they had received both a Rookie of the Year Award and a Most Valuable Player Award prior to entering arbitration. The only other such player would have been Mike Trout, but he signed a multi-year deal the year before reaching arbitration eligibility. Awards can be a huge part of arbitration hearings, especially for first-time eligible players like this, which immediately explains why Bryant is projected to earn $8.9MM, nearly halfway between Posey and Howard. Joey Votto also had an MVP Award (but no ROY) in 2011 when he received an $8MM salary, but he ended up agreeing to a multi-year deal and did not exchange figures before that, so he is not very useful for our purposes.
When it comes to actual numbers rather than hardware, Bryant has a good case as well. He hit .295/29/73 in his platform year and has amassed .288/94/274 for his career. Howard hit .268/47/136 in his platform, with .291/129/353 in his career. So he would be appear to represent a ceiling if the deal was more recent. That said, Bryant might argue that his case is old enough that it should not act as a ceiling on his earnings.
Posey hit .336/24/103 in his platform year and had .314/46/191 for his career line entering arbitration. The batting average (and the fact that he is a catcher) makes Posey look more favorable, but the fact that Bryant has twice the career home runs might make his case more impressive in a process that leans heavily on home runs. Votto’s numbers are actually somewhat closer though, with a .324/37/113 platfrom and .314/90/298 career. Of course, his multi-year deal limits his usefulness as a comparable.
Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado could serve as floors. Neither had the hardware, and both had relatively similar numbers except for far fewer career home runs when they entered the arb process. Machado had a .286/35/86 platform and a .281/68/215 career, while Arenado had a .287/42/130 platform and a .281/70/243 career. So I would guess that their identical $5MM salaries two years ago are a solid floor for Bryant.
I suspect Posey might actually be the best comparable, despite the fact that he plays a premium defensive position. Adding in salary inflation, his $8MM salary in 2013 puts Bryant around $9.5MM. I suspect he will not break Howard’s record, so this seems pretty believable. The Cubs could easily try to argue for a lower number like Arenado or Machado, but probably will have trouble making that case. However, the team could still try to push Bryant south of Posey’s $8MM. There is a large range of plausible outcomes for a case like this; it would represent a fascinating hearing if it went to a panel.
Guess Gold Gloves, or a Platinum Glove for that matter, are ‘Hardware’ compared to Bryant. SMFH
Adults who miss the point of the comparison and can’t make a point without abbreviated swearing. SMH
They didn’t have the awards Bryant has, one of which, the MVP, is “the” award.
Can you imagine the Cubs arguing for a lower salary by saying the other comps didn’t win MVP, but they won the GG?
$15M minimum, or just trade him to St. Louis for Ernie Broglio III. Simple: just pick.
The article is clearly talking about players going into their 1st year of arbitration. Nolan Arenado did not have a Platinum glove going into his 1st year of arb.
no wonder no one wants to trade for Manny; you would want a baseball player, not a floor.
Pay the man.
Psssst They will be paying the man….question of how much. If the Cubs gave him exactly what he asked for, that would not keep Bryant in a Cubs uniform any longer than it would if they end up winning the Arb hearing. He is a Boras client. He will not sign a long term deal till he hits FA. If the Cubs offer the most, he will stay with the Cubs. If the Nats or the Yankees or Dodgers or Angels offer a bunch more, he will be changing uniforms
Psssst They will be paying the man….question is how much will they pay him? If the Cubs gave him exactly what he asked for, that would not keep Bryant in a Cubs uniform any longer than it would if they end up winning the Arb hearing. He is a Boras client. He will not sign a long term deal till he hits FA. If the Cubs offer the most, he will stay with the Cubs. If the Nats or the Yankees or Dodgers or Angels offer a bunch more, he will be changing uniforms
I get down votes? For what? It is common sense and logic. Explain what makes it worthy of a down vote?
Dustin Pedroia also received both a Rookie of the Year Award and a Most Valuable Player Award prior to entering arbitration – in his first 2 seasons!
But now you’re talking 10 years ago (which Howard got 10 mil then). Seems like at minimum KB should get 10 mil.
But he did not carry those awards into an arbitration hearing in his first year of eligibility as Ryan Howard and Buster Posey did. Thus, they are relevant to this piece and mentioned as reference points and Pedroia is not.
No one intimated that Howard and Posey were the only players to accomplish the feat of winning a ROY and MVP early in their careers. Fred Lynn won both in the SAME year, but he is also not relevant to this article and therefore not mentioned.
The sports world does not revolve around Boston (contrary to my Pats fan gf’s belief).
Got to defend my Boston bro. The mistake in the article is no big deal, but it did more than just “intimate” that nobody else had done it:
“The only other such player would have been Mike Trout, but he signed a multi-year deal the year before reaching arbitration eligibility.”
Pedroia wouldn’t have been much of a comp even if he had gone through arbitration since he doesn’t put up the kind of numbers the archaic system rewards. I think he only hit 17 homers in his MVP year.
I was actually going to mention Pedroia. He also won a gold glove. Since he got the long term deal he doesnt matter for arbitration any more than Trout (who did get a mention). I guess people are just triggered by the Red Sox, huh?
Seems like, in Bryant’s case, if you think acting in good faith and adding a few million dollars more now ($10.1mil and the record) will save you millions later on an extension, then you don’t take him to arbitration and pay him his money. But, if you think Boras won’t allow an extension, no matter the offer, then by all means save the bucks and give him 8 or 9 mil and call it a day.
Doubtful they go to arbitration. Not Theo’s style
I agree. I don’t see them going to arbitration. “Pay dat man his money”.
Let’s talk about Theo style- his firs trade was DJ Lemathieu & Tyler Colvin for Ian Stewart & Casey Weathers, signed the bum Soler to 30 mil international deal, overpaid for Fujikawa, threw away tons of money for Edwin Jackson, traded Zack Godley & others for Montero and his 39 mil dollar contract, traded Welli Castillo for literally nothing, signed a washed up Dan Haren, overpaid for Zobrist who will have 1 productive year for Cubs, traded Starlin Castro for NOTHING, signed Joe Nathan when he was like 41 years old, overpaid for the bum Uehara, signed the bum Brett Anderson, traded top 2 prospects & others for Quintana and his overall biggest mistake was he overpaid tremendously for Heyward,
I know he drafted well and had a couple trades work out well for Cubs but it amazes me how so many of his mistakes are overlooked. He left the Red Sox in horrendous shape when he left there too. Most overrated person in sports!
Who cares wtf you think. When we want your opinion will ask for it. Get over it.
Yeah and all these “mistakes ultimately have led to the Cubs making the NLCS 3 straight years while winning the World Series in one of them. What point are you trying to make? Dan Haren wasn’t signed either, he was traded for at the deadline and he actually helped the Cubs make the playoffs that year. Castro was moved so the Cubs could sign Zobrist, and what was anyone going to give up for Wellington Castillo at the time? No GM makes every perfect move but within a matter of 5 years the guy tore the Cubs down and turned them into a World Series champion and perennial contender. Exactly what else do you want?
Haters going to hate. I think he did a great job for the Red Sox and Cubs.
Theo Style won you a championship for the first time in 106 years. So relax. Have a cup of coffee. It’s a beautiful day.
You left out he traded Soler to KC for Davis, who helped them get to the NLCS for the third year in a row. He trade Starlin Castro for the guy who got the go ahead hit in game 7. He traded for Montero’s contract who got the game winning grand slam against the Dodgers to propel them to the WS. And then Montero got the game winning hit in game 7. You see it one way, I see it quite differently. And I know the majority of Cub and Red Sox fans have the highest respect for Hall of Famer, Theo Epstein.
Michaelw is the typical Cub fan, Lol. Theo is very good however his mistakes, which I pointed out a few, go unnoticed. Did Boston ownership thank Theo for the horrible Lugo, Crawford & Gonzalez contracts? I don’t expect any GM to be perfect but many seem to think he is. That cannot be argued, it’s a fact!
Starlin Castro wasn’t traded for Zobrist. Zobrist was signed as a free agent
Technically he wasn’t, but he was traded to free up money for Zobrist
Who the heck is zack godley ? Montero was pretty good his first 2 years.
Edwin Jackson has been with half the ML team in almost as many years.
Castro should have gotten. More than Warren but they got Ben Zobrist. I’ll take Zo over Castro every day of the week. Castro is at his peak and now he’s gonna be stuck with the Marlins. Til june/July.
Pretty such jim Hendry trade for Ian Stewart not Theo. Either way he got Addison Russell for Jeff Samardzija. How did that work out? Top 5 SS and top 10 2ndB for an emergency spot starter.
You serious Clark? But wow, where do I begin? Zack Godley is a Very good young starter for the Dbacks (and he’s pitching in several hitters parks in NL west). So 39 mil is justified for a pretty good catcher for a couple years? Zo is getting 56 mil and he should be a bench player for them barring anymore moves, Russell is not a top 5 SS- maybe a top 10 & yes Theo made that very bad LaMahieu trade (It was one of his first cubs trades).
Dude shut the heck up.
And mitt24 joins the typical Cub fan contigent, Lol. Some of these guys spew such remarkable knowledge, history and debating skills. How dare anyone point out some of Theo’s flaws.
Theo raped billy beane in that trade for Russell. They don’t have billy McKinley any more but russell is without a doubt a top 5 SS in the NL at least
Easily a top 10 in all of baseball.
Miguel Montero had only two hits in the 2016.playoffs a grand slam and an rbi single in game 7 to seal the deal . Don’t care how it ended for him with the cubs.
Interesting you say top 5 “NL” and Russell is a career .240 hitter, does play solid defense and has some pop in his bat but he had that domestic violence issue which ironically their last shortstop in Castro had some off field issues too. But I’m not sure “raped” is good terminology nowadays or in this case!
It will be interesting to see if the arbitration process has developed any sense of value for baserunning and defense in the last decade. Given that Howard had negative value in both regards (and you did not need modern metrics or advanced analytics to see it), and that his record is 10 years old, I think Bryant has a strong case for matching Howard’s record. Breaking it could be a tall order, as Howard had compiled monster traditional stats to that point, but tying it should be, IMO, reasonable.
dam a lot hate on here or haters holly cow listen Theo and Jed gave him extra money last year out of good faith and believe me the brink truck in chitown will back up in kbs door we have the tv revenue deal coming next year I will lay money down and saying bryzzo souvenir company will be in business will be booming for a will lol
I am no hater but no matter what he gets paid this year and next, that will not enter into the equation when he goes FA and Boras goes fishing for a huge contract. I believe if all things are fairly equal, he will sign long term With the Cubs at that point. If the Cubs say offer a 175M deal and the Yanks or Dodgers would offer 225M for the same term, and the Cubs for some reason do not want to budge higher, he will goe for the extra 50M. If all of the offers are around 175M and Kris loves being in Chicago, he of course will stay. It depends what his ambitions are and how much more money it will take for him to move to a different team. What they pay him this year and next will have no bearing on what happens in FA. Say he wants 10.5M to set the record and the Decide to do that and offer say 15M next year, that would by no means make him feel obligated to resign for a discount with the Cubs. A player like him earns the right to go for the gusto if they choose to and anything extra they pay him now will not affect his choice on where he goes as a FA.
Whathappened with the Kris Bryant grievance? That can impact a ton in his earnings.
Give him 13-16mul this year lock him up for 10 next winter in Las Vegas for 10/310