Serious money business awaits Cubs in coming days

Fans of the Chicago Cubs heard the words all baseball fans yearn to hear this time of year: Pitchers and catchers report.

There is also some serious business in the immediate future, too.

Cubs pitches and catchers will report to the Sloan Park complex in Mesa, Arizona, on Feb. 12 with their first formal workout the next day. Position players will hold their first formal workout Feb. 18. Cactus League play opens for the Cubs Feb. 23 when they host the Milwaukee Brewers.

Now for the serious business.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, citing "sources," reported Thursday that "the Cubs would love a shot" at free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper but that "ownership approval continues to appear unlikely."

On Friday, the Cubs will exchange salary figures with seven of their players who are eligible for salary arbitration: Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Carl Edwards Jr., Kyle Hendricks, Mike Montgomery, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber.

If the two sides cannot agree on a deal and a player's case goes to arbitration, the arbitrator must decide on either the club's offer or the player's offer, with no in-between.

The one to watch will be Baez, runner-up to Milwaukee's Christian Yelich for the National League Most Valuable Player award last year. Baez made $657,000 last season, and MLB Trade Rumors ( estimates he could get $7.1 million this year.

Bryant received $10.85 million last year, a record for a first-year arbitration-eligible player. The MLB Trade Rumors estimate for this year is $12.4 million.

The other estimates are $7.6 million for Hendricks, $3 million for Montgomery, $4.3 million for Russell, $1.4 million for Edwards and $3.1 million for Schwarber.

The official run-up to spring training begins next Friday, Jan. 18, for the Cubs, who host their annual fan convention at the downtown Sheraton Grand through Sunday, Jan. 20.

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