There are a few key Cubs players who will reach free agency after the 2021 season. Today, the Cubs DNA team talks about extensions/trading/tough decisions on some of these key guys: Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo. Alls we can say is... good luck Jed!
Javy Baez: Arbitration 3. Made $10m ($3.7m adjusted) in 2020
Staci: I only think you extend Javy if he's willing to sign a team-friendly deal at this point. Javy's offense completely fell apart this season, and while he's blaming the lack of video availability, his pitch recognition looked like it did in 2015. If you can trade him and get some valuable pieces, especially with Ed Howard in the system, I think you have to give it some major consideration.
AssMatt: Not sure if it was the weird season, the pandemic, no video, new manager, or what, but Javy didn't seem to be having nearly as much fun this year. (Recency bias?) Bbref has him projected to hit .262.306.484 with in a short 2021 season. Honestly, that's right where I expect him to be too. As much as I love him, that's not the player you empty the 'checkbook' for. Wouldn't be shocked to see him reunited with Joe in Anaheim.
Steven: Let me start out this round robin by saying that this year just sorta mucks everything up as we have heard multiple players and coaches say this was the most difficult year because of the pandemic. It's hard to judge a player if they had a terrible season. That said, Javy was one of the worst hitters in baseball this year. Some other guys on that list include Nolan Arenado, Jose Altuve, JD Martinez, and Joey Gallo so I think the pandemic hurt a bunch of All-Star caliber players. The Cubs know what Javy wants and if Javy wants a superstar type extension then I think the Cubs should look into trading him.
Pronk: Javy will be 29. After two OPS over .800 years, he fell apart in 2020. Now might be an ideal time to try an extend him on the cheap. He's got considerable upside, but also has serious risk. If that glove degrades with age, and if he continues to struggle with the bat, any big extension has serious bust risk. I think I try for something in the 8-10 year /$120m range, where he gets safety of extra years, but obviously at a reduced salary. Hopefully he bounces back.
Caleb: Javy is the best fielding SS in the game. The bat, however, has been very inconsistent. I’d like to see an extension but only if the price is right.
Kris Bryant: Arbitration 4. Made $18.6m ($6.9m adjusted) in 2020
Staci: I still think you try to extend KB if he's willing, because he's still the best player on the team. This season was an anomaly. He gets healthy in the offseason? You've got your star player back, and you're better off spending your pennies on him than shipping him off after such a down year.
Matt: With absolutely no disrespect to anyone else on the team, KB is the one person you lock down. He's a homegrown MVP who will never hurt you with a scandal (unless you count 'I don't give a shit' as a scandal). Being a new dad and the uncertainty that 2020 brought might make him more likely to sign. As long as he isn't trying to break the bank, do it.
Steven: Kris had an awful year but he is still one of the best hitters on this team. The Cubs should definitely be trying to extend him. Before this year, his lowest wRC+ was 125 and he was battling a wrist injury that season. There is no one is the organization that can immediately step in and fill his spot in the lineup. Cubs fans are crazy if they want Kris gone.
Pronk: He'll be 30. After starting off with 3 great seasons, he's leveled off a bit. He's had subpar years 2/3 last years. If he's still looking for a Harper like megadeal, I'm not sure I can sign him to that. I'm a bit concerned about aging and injuries. I think it all comes down to how he plays in 2021. I'm not sure the Cubs can trade him now for anything of proper value after a brutal 2020, so I think they have to let him play out. If he's willing to sign a 6-8 year $120-150 year extension without a full no trade clause, I'd consider it strongly. Now might be a chance to sneak in a bargain deal.
Caleb: Kris Bryant is my favorite Cub. When I say extend him, I mean forever. Go ahead and erect the statue.
Kyle Schwarber: Arbitration 3. Made $7m ($2.6m adjusted) in 2020
Staci: I don't think you extend Schwarbs. In fact, and I hate to say this, but it may be time to deal him if you can. For example, the Yankees desperately need lefty bats, and he'd be flinging homers over that short RF wall every other day. See if you can make a play for Clint Frazier, who hits lefties really well and is a solid defensive outfielder. (The fabulous ginger flow would just be a bonus.)
Matt: I think it's going to come down to Schwarber or Happ for LF in 2021. I suspect Kyle will be flipped for a talented but underachieving starting pitcher to help round out the rotation. Think Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva, except without the assholery. Re-sign Hamilton on the cheap and let him and Brennan Davis man CF.
Steven: I think Schwarber is the type of player you just wait and see with unless he accepts a team friendly deal. The bat is legit but keeping him in LF means Happ stays in CF and I am not a fan of Happ in center.
Pronk: Schwarber's career is really tough to judge, with a tough 2020 and injury missed 2016. Just playing the numbers outside of external situations, he's played 6 years, and played well in 3 of those years. (2015, 2018, 2019). With a career worst 2020, his value is likely low on the trade market. Now might be the time to extend him if you think he'll rebound. To me, it's a basically a coin flip situation. Maybe he rebounds again, maybe he doesn't. do you want to be on the hook for that for a fat longer term deal? I don't. If he'll sign a 3-6 year deal with an AAV under $10m, I'd consider it. Otherwise, I think the Cubs let him play as a lame duck. If he rebounds, he might be trade bait. If not, you just cut your losses.
Caleb: Schwarber has increased his value as a fielder significantly (though he struggled at the plate in 2020). With that value increase comes trade options. Schwarbs could be a winter trade with KB taking over full time in Left
Anthony Rizzo: Free Agent (after the Club Option for 2021)
Staci: I'm with Pronk... you have to sign him if you can, but you can't break the bank, no matter how much we all love him. Not if we want the team to stay competitive.
Matt: Rizzboo is our Andrew McCutchen. I can't imagine how Pirates fans feel seeing Cutch be awesome everywhere he goes. Give him the Yadi treatment, I don't care. Keep him (and Bryzzo) around forever. And no, I wouldn't trade Rizzo for Trout. :)
Steven: Give him a dollar. Give him a billion dollars. I don't care as long as he is a Cub for life. Rizzo is literally the only player where I don't care about the results. He means so much the team, the organization, and the community. SIGN HIM FOR LIFE!
Pronk: So this will be a tough decision. Perhaps a lot tougher than I want to think about. Rizzo will have just completed his age 31 season. He had a rough 2020. The are concerns about his back. I wouldn't want to sign him to anything more than 5/$100m. Which is a raise, but may seem cheap.
Caleb: If Rizz signs another club friendly deal, there’s no reason for him to not be back. If he wants his market value, it may finally be time to step away.