Third baseman Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs have avoided arbitration, settling on a one-year, $18.6 million deal, a source familiar with the agreement told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Friday.
Bryant, whose name had surfaced in trade rumors this offseason, had a .282 batting average with 31 home runs and 77 RBIs last season. He was eighth in the NL with 108 runs scored and drew enough walks to post a .382 on-base percentage, 16th best in the majors.
He missed the final week of the regular season after spraining his right ankle when he landed awkwardly on a wet first-base bag while trying to beat out a double play.
There also is the matter of a service time grievance against the Cubs that was filed on Bryant’s behalf by the MLBPA. That grievance is expected to be resolved in the next two weeks, sources told Passan.
Bryant contends he should have started the 2015 season with the big league club, allowing him to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Instead, the Cubs sent him to the minors out of spring training, then brought him up 10 days later because of an injury, allowing them to keep him an extra year and making him a free agent after the 2021 season.
If Bryant wins the grievance, this would be his final arbitration year and he would be a free agent after the 2020 season. If, as expected, he loses, he will have one more arbitration-eligible year and would become a free agent after the 2021 season.
Bryant, selected by the Cubs with the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and the NL Most Valuable Player in 2016.
Center fielder Albert Almora Jr. and the Cubs are also in agreement on a one-year, $1.575 million deal, a source told ESPN.
Almora, the sixth overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft by the Cubs, had a .236 batting average with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs last season.
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