The Cubs are working to keep one of their core players on the North Side for years to come.
The Cubs and superstar shortstop Javier Baez are discussing a long-term contract extension, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
This isn’t the first time the Cubs have approached members of their core to discuss contract extensions. They gave Anthony Rizzo a seven-year deal in 2013, buying out the first baseman’s remaining arbitration years. In February, Kyle Hendricks agreed to a four-year extension, one season before the right-hander was set to hit the open market.
Baez and third baseman Kris Bryant will become free agents after the 2021 season and the Cubs have been unsuccessful in extending either player to date. According to Wittenmyer, reaching a long-term deal with Baez is seen as “much more feasible” for the Cubs than with Bryant. This makes sense considering Bryant’s agent is Scott Boras, whose clients generally hit the open market to maximize the amount of money they receive.
This doesn’t mean the Cubs would trade Bryant if they can’t agree to an extension this winter. In fact, Boras laid out at the GM Meetings this week why a Bryant trade is unlikely, which also can apply to Baez.
"Certainly every player I have that is at that level, they're always asking the question about, 'will they? Won't they? Will they trade him? Will they do it?'" Boras said. "And the answer to that is always: I can give you a percentage over a decade of how many of those players get traded and the answer is very low. If you think that much of him and to get something back for him with a limited period of time is always very hard."
Simply put: you know what you have in superstars like Bryant and Baez. You can't say the same about less established players/prospects.
Cubs president Theo Epstein said at his end-of-season press conference in September that the organization is open to changing up the roster. So, if the Cubs feel they can’t agree to terms on an extension with Baez and/or Bryant, they could entertain trade proposals for the sake of doing due diligence.
“We’re open to change. We’re open-minded about this roster, and I expect to have a lot of trade discussions this winter,” Epstein said in September. “I think a lot of the players on this year’s team are gonna be part of the next Cubs championship team, so we want to be mindful of that.
“But it’s also really hard to accomplish improvement and change in certain areas unless you’re extremely open-minded. As we have in previous offseasons, we’re very likely to engage certain players in discussions about long-term contracts and see if there’s a way to extend player’s windows as Cubs that way. And if that’s not possible, that might make you open-minded about trades.”