March 30: Jon Heyman of The New York Post provides the full breakdown. Hoerner will make $11.5MM in each of the first two seasons, then get a slight bump to $12MM in 2026.
March 29: The Cubs announced agreement with second baseman Nico Hoerner on a three-year contract extension covering the 2024-26 seasons. The deal reportedly guarantees the Apex Baseball client $35MM over that stretch. It buys out his final two seasons of arbitration eligibility and one free agent year.
Hoerner has emerged as one of the Cubs’ better players in recent years. A first-round pick out of Stanford in 2018, he made it to the majors within a year and a half of being drafted. That was a brief cameo and Hoerner struggled during the abbreviated 2020 campaign. Over the past two seasons, however, he’s taken a step forward at the dish to pair with his strong up-the-middle defensive profile.
The Oakland native lost a good chunk of the 2021 season to hamstring and oblique issues. When healthy, he posted a .302/.382/.369 line over 44 games that year. He followed up with his first full season, in which he hit .281/.327/.410 in 135 contests. Hoerner connected on 10 home runs and 22 doubles. More impressively, he kept his strikeout rate to a minuscule 11% while making contact on an above-average 86.6% of his swings. Going back to the start of the 2021 campaign, he’s a .286/.341/.400 hitter in a little under 700 trips to the dish.
It’s hardly elite offense but Hoerner has compensated for modest power with excellent contact skills. Putting the ball in play has allowed him to run a high batting average that props up the offensive profile. He’s also been a plus on the basepaths, stealing 20 bags in 22 attempts last year.
Hoerner has paired that decent hitting with strong work on the infield. He has played over 1400 major league innings at shortstop, drawing strong grades from Defensive Runs Saved and Statcast’s Outs Above Average. DRS has pegged Hoerner as 10 runs better than the average defender at the infield’s most demanding position. Statcast has credited him as 16 runs above par.
The Cubs are kicking Hoerner to the other side of the second base bag in 2023. Chicago added Dansby Swanson on a seven-year free agent deal this offseason. Hoerner seemed fully on board with the position change, agreeing to move to the keystone to enable the club to add a player of Swanson’s caliber. There’s little question he’ll be an excellent second baseman, where he’s also gotten elite grades from public metrics in 468 1/3 frames between 2019-21.
Hoerner has between three and four years of major league service time. He and the organization had agreed to a $2.525MM salary for the upcoming season. The three-year pact apparently takes effect in 2024, as the deal reportedly buys out his final two arbitration years and one free agent campaign. He’s now slated to first hit the open market over the 2026-27 offseason, at which point he’ll be entering his age-30 campaign.
It’s rare for players already into arbitration to sign extensions that buy out exactly one free agent year. Players like Miguel Sanó (three years, $30MM) and J.P. Crawford (four years, $46.15MM) have signed extensions in this vicinity in recent seasons. Crawford’s deal bought out two free agent years, however. Sanó’s contract came with a club option for a second would-be free agent year. Hoerner secures a shorter-term commitment that locks in his arbitration earnings and allows him to still hit the market at age 30.
The team, meanwhile, picks up one additional season of a player they obviously value highly. It’s a bit of a surprise to see them commit $35MM to pick up control of one free agent year. Had the sides gone annually through arbitration, Hoerner would have built off this year’s $2.525MM platform salary.
Assuming he’d have made around $12-15MM for his final two arbitration seasons, the Cubs are valuing the free agent year in the $20-23MM range. It’s possible that proves to be below market value by that point, though it’d probably require Hoerner taking another step forward with the bat. The Cubs seem confident he’ll do so, with this agreement signifying they view him as a key part of a core that can get them back to playoff contention.
Ken Rosenthal and Sahadev Sharma of the Athletic first reported the Cubs and Hoerner were in advanced extension talks. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported the deal had been agreed upon as well as the contract terms.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
What are discussion talks?
Whatever it is, I like the sound of it
Not just any discussion talks mind you, “advanced” discussion talks.
Talks where they discuss a contract. Not tough.
It’s a degree above the “contract recommendation” the Jays made to Bo Bichette earlier this month……..with better results.
$35M for 3 years seems like an overpay to me, especially for just one free agent season and no option for his second year of free agency. Arbitration tends to treat these types of players rather poorly, so as the article states an estimated $20M – $23M+ for his one free agency year at the end of this 3 year deal seems quite expensive for a player who will be lucky to hit 15+ HRs at his peak. Sure he’s great with the glove, doesn’t strike out much and runs the bases well, but his overall performance feels more deserving of a Benintendi type of deal (5/$75M – $15M/yr) than a $20M+ salary. With that said, it’s only for one season after his arbitration eligibility runs out so it’s relatively low risk from a long term perspective. I just hope that extra $5-$10M in 2026 doesn’t impact their ability to sign Happ to an extension. The Cubs need to lock up Happ if they are looking to compete for division titles over the next 3-5 seasons.
I’ll tell you what the overpay was. Cleveland giving Gimenez 106 million. Hoerner is a steal at 2.5 million this year and 12 million for the next 3 years after that. That’s getting it done by Jed and Carter. Kudos. I didn’t even know Cleveland had that much dough. Should of saved some of that for Bieber.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Little Nic Hoerner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum, And said, “What a good $35 million boy am I…
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
That would be domestic violence Donny
Hired Gun 23
Damn…those discussion talks did advance quickly!
I would call it a one year extension as the other two years were already under control.
But now the cost is known with no arbitration.
And from the players standpoint it is guaranteed.
It’s an extension. Player has no guarantee of a contract past current season. Could be non tendered.
deGrom Texas Ranger
What? Even if he makes 15 million in arb, that’s 20 million for a better version of Kiner-Falefa.
Except IKF has never had an above average offensive season..Nico Hoerner has had two in a row, if you the count 2021 sample, I get what you are saying and I agree but maybe not the best example. Maybe Ha- Seong Kim? Idk that’s probably a bad comparison too.
And that gets the Cubs into the real range of major league productivity of Cristian Hernandez, Kevin Made, Ed Howard if any of the group make it.
A moderate length of extension, at probably close to a fair cost (really nice for Nico) without tying up any too much future flexibility at this time.
Just for context Hoerner is making just $2.6 million this season. This extension is noteworthy in that the Cubs are getting arguably zero discount on his services.
deGrom Texas Ranger
A negative discount (aka a premium)
I love this kid and his likely future productivity. This sounds like a fair deal all around.
Seems like an overpay- but I am guessing they think they’ve got a $20M+ player for $11.67M a year.
Also- local kid! Surreal to see where he went to high school. Not my generation, but still cool to see.
I’m thinking the Cubs expect teams to put a premium on elite defense at second base now and with the other rule changes, Hoerner will take his game to the next level.
Nico doesn’t have a ton of power but I can see him turning into a 15 home run threat and with the pick off rules, turning that up a notch as well.
It’s a bit of an underpay tbh
I’m really hoping to see a couple 15 million dollar team options tacked onto that deal when it’s all said and done.
How does he already have 3 years of service time with 240 games I figured he had at least 4 years left
Injuries and COVID
Covid prorated a 60 game season to a full year.
Some extensions are not just about which party can secure the best deal. The Cubs have at least signaled a willingness to honor production and this can only help them with similar players in the futures
I was hoping for 7/90-95mil range. But at least Jed finally 1. Offered an extension and 2. Actually extended a player. That hasn’t been a strong suit of his.
Great defensive SS.
It’s three years of good stability for the middle infield. That’s a good thing for the Cubs. I do know they already had two years guaranteed. Perhaps a longer extension can be worked out later.
Nico is worth a lot to the Cubs as a second-baseman, no doubt, but I think he’s worth more to the team as a shortstop trade piece. League-average offense and above average defense at SS? Sign me up.
The way that Free Agency went last off season the Cubs are now set up the middle for the next 4 years at a reasonable price. When you see what Turner, Boegarts and Correa were getting offered it’s a fair trade for him and the Cubs. It’s a smart play. But it only works if the team wins and the pitching gets even better which I expect it to. Extend the players you want to keep and trade the rest. That’s how it works best.
I hope this gets people talking about Nico. He has largely been unrecognized for what he’s done to this point.
I’m rich **beyotch**
I see the Cubs winning their division. This team is going to be better than people think or see right now. They got vets and winners over there, Let’s see how they hold up injury adn pitching-wise.
“It’s possible that proves to be below market value by that point, though it’d probably require Hoerner taking another step forward with the bat.”
He had a 106 wRC+ in 2021 and 2022, and was a 4 fwar player in 2022 with a full season of at bats. Even if you lower that due to less defensive value playing 2b, you’re still looking at~ 3 fwar with his bat where it is. FA pays less for defense, but I think $20-23m for 1 year is already below market for that kind of player.
There is a couple things that are being over looked, first is that Nico is arguably the best defensive second baseman in the game. In 2021, while only playing 30 games, 251 innings, he ranked in the 99th percentile in OAA for second basemen.
The second thing is, Nico also has elite speed and the new rules regarding pick offs, the pitch clock and bases should greatly increase his stolen base attempts. People always bring up the bases and pick off attempts but the pitch clock in itself will increase stolen basss.
Third, contact rate is something a lot of teams have sneakily valued more and more. Nicos contact rate is insane! I also see hidden power in his bat. I’m not going to predict 20 plus home runs but 15-20 range definitely.
Good analysis. Sample size still smallish, but there is no reason to believe this is not what to expect from him.
I remember being the only Cub fan saying that Hoerner was better than Madrigal before 2022.
I said that, too.
Donny banned in record time
And the winner is kyleschwarbersmom.
You don’t even need that stuff to be true though, is the point I’m making. $20-23 is basically the QO. Do you think a team would qo someone with Nico’s (or a little less if adjusting for second base) 2022 production, even if they knew there wasn’t the benefit of an extra pick if he leaves? I do.
I’m not huge on this extension because they’re taking on a decent amount of risk for not a ton of benefit, but my problem is saying that he’d need to improve to be worth the final year $ amount. If he remains exactly the same player as 2022 throughout this contract, the cubs are probably stoked with that result.
I’m glad this got done, Nico deserves the job security. But now I’m wondering if the Cubs will let Happ walk at the end of the year and just tack on a QO. This looks like a repeat of last year with Contreras.
I think the Cubs are fine with not extending Happ with Davis, PCA, Alcantara and Canario all in the outfield mix in the near future.
Yeah, with so many outfield prospects, Pete Crow-Armstrong among them, Happ is looking expendable. They could trade him at the deadline but Hoyer seems to prefer the comp pick from the qualifying offer if we go by how Contreras was handed last offseason.
Im not sure the compensation pick was the goal with Contreras. It came out that Hoyer had a deal in place with the Astros for one of their pitchers. The owner nixed the deal on the day of the trade deadline. Hoyer then went back to the Mets, but the Mets weren’t willing to offer anything Hoyer valued over the comp pick. I think they were pushing Vientos
If someone can recall the Houston pitcher that was being discussed, please refresh my memory.
Yes, you’re right it was for Jose Urquidy, that would have been a steal for the Cubs.
In 2027, Christian Hernandez can take over at middle infield.
I’m curious to see Howard, before he got hurt last year he was looking like a guy who could be on the verge of a break out with the bat and he is already a ridiculous defender.
Nico made some nice “coin” today
Ed Howard has a .225 career average with the Cubs. When did this breakout occur exactly? Because I missed it.
There was a couple week period where he raked but it hasn’t been sustained over time. I would like to see some progress this year for sure. Howard is so athletic in the field.
I love players like Nico. It’s a lost art, putting the ball in play.
He reminds me of a young Ben Zobrist with more speed and a slightly better glove. Hopefully he can continue to improve and remain a valuable asset late into his career like Zobrist did. If he can do that, he’ll triple this $35M with his next free agency contract. I would have preferred a 5 year deal for him, but I’m guessing he either wanted longer extension (8+ years) or he was adamant about getting to free agency in his age 30 year. A lot of 30 year olds broke the bank this past offseason with huge free agent deals, so I’m sure Hoerner had that in mind while negotiating this deal.
I miss having Ben Zobrist on the Cubs. Towards the end, yes he limited to corner outfield and second base duties, but man he was still versatile, he didn’t strike out a ton, and he was a great clutch hitter. When he was gone, his presence was sorely missed, Cubs didn’t have another hitter that could put the ball in play.
Voice of Reason
How does Hoyer keep his job?
Manfred Rob's Earth Band
He hasn’t been fired or left the organization yet.
Good move for the Cubs. In Jed we trust
Slow day at work
On a side note, nice debut for Dansby with the Cubs! As a Braves fan, I’m happy he made a great impression on all those doubters!
Lol… I know how this game works and some players take a little while to get going. Dansby didn’t hit very much in the spring, but in the last week he started hitting balls hard up the middle and I knew he’s starting to get his timing down. Today was so great to see him have a good opening day with his new team and already remove any pressure he may have felt. I definitely was never someone who’s been bitching about him signing with the Cubs or how he played theirs spring, but I’ll admit I had some reservations about him continuing to play as well as he did last season. I sure hope this is his new norm and he elevates his game up another notch. Sure looks like it will be fun watching Nico and Dansby playing together for at least the next 3 years.
That a boy, Neek! Pride of Oakland.