Why COVID-19 crisis might create opportunity for Cubs to re-sign Kris Bryant


His agent said the economics of the game over the next year or two won’t make any difference.

But Cubs star Kris Bryant said everything else that has changed in the world — and his own life — has caused him to re-examine the way he looks at his relationship with the Cubs and possibly even his stance on any extension talks that might arise before he’s eligible for free agency after next season.

“I feel like I’m more calm — although I do appear calm always,” he said Monday during a Zoom call with reporters. “but just things that really mattered to me before don’t matter to me as much.

“You value people in your life that bring value to you, and certainly this organization has brought value to me in my life, and hopefully I’ve returned the favor. You want to be around people that want you and care for you, and I’ve certainly felt that being a Chicago Cub.”

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Bryant, who said he considered opting out of playing this season in part because of the COVID-19 risk in relation to having a newborn son at home, emphasized that the idea of an extension with the Cubs is the last thing on his mind during such a high-anxiety moment in society in general and within what players and organizations are trying to make happen in an abbreviated 2020 season during a pandemic.

“I’m happy where I’m at; I love this organization, and I love everybody who’s part of it,” the 2016 MVP said. “I’m up for hearing what they have to say.

“But there’s a lot more other worries in my life and the world right now. So, I feel like it’s a little insensitive to be talking about big dollars and stuff like that when people are losing their job and their life. I’ve never been the type to be super selfish and want the attention on me to sign a contract or whatever. I think there’s bigger problems right now.”

Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, said in May the lengthy shutdown of professional sports and lingering economic impact would make little or no difference in markets for the top players, such as Bryant.

MORE: Scott Boras: Why Kris Bryant's free agency won't be impacted by economic crisis

“For the players who are the great players — because there’s always only a few great players — I don’t think it’s going to have anywhere near the impact,” Boras said, “because those great players are somebody you would sign for 10 years, and you can defer the cost.

"You just backload the contracts. You can do things with long-term contracts; you could wait for better times but still get the player for today.

“By the way, if I don’t sign that player, and I wait to sign that same star player when I do have the money in 2023, he’s going to cost me more.”

Bryant’s perspective adjustment since fatherhood and experiences during the pandemic may not make a difference on his chances to remain with the Cubs long-term, even if he shows a more willing approach to consider less than top dollar.

The Cubs’ payroll already was stretched to baseball’s luxury-tax threshold, with the front office re-evaluating its one-time championship core and how it might retool the roster for its next competitive window.

Pandemic economics wouldn’t seem to add any flexibility to that process or payroll math.

But the thoughts Bryant expressed Monday might at least be worthy of discussion over the winter, depending where the country and the sport is with the coronavirus crisis by then — if not the first actual talks on a long-term contract by the sides in three years.

Assuming he’s not traded by this year’s Aug. 31 deadline?

“I would like it not to be a concern,” Bryant said. “I’d like to think I wouldn’t be shipped out in the middle of a pandemic.”


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