What's next for Bryzzo? Bryant shares funny vision of his future with Rizzo
It can't be easy feeling unsure of what the future holds, but Cubs outfielder Kris Bryant was able to put a nice visual to his situation.
During a talk with reporters in San Diego on Monday, Bryant imagined he and Anthony Rizzo going from team to team, "Step Brothers" style, as package-deal free agents.
"Great to see you Kris, but who is this gentleman sitting behind you?"
Bryant, Rizzo and Javy Baez are all in the final year of their contracts, so the future is uncertain for the Cubs as well as the World Series nucleus.
The Cubs improved their luck on this West Coast trip by beating the Padres 7-1 to even the series Tuesday. Zach Davies threw 6 scoreless innings against his former team, giving up just 1 hit and 2 walks. Willson Contreras, Patrick Wisdom and Anthony Rizzo homered for the Cubs.
"We've just been joking in the cage," Bryant said. "Me being his hitting coach and saying: 'I can't go anywhere without you. I need you.' Just the good friendship that we have.
"We've got our pitch. It's like the 'Step Brothers.' We've got to go in and get a new job."
This ordeal has been something of a roller coaster for the Cubs. The impending free agents all had disappointing results during the 2020 shortened season, then the Cubs began this year in a miserable hitting slump.
At that point, it was easy to say this group was washed. The league had caught up to them, they couldn't adjust and the Cubs might as well clean house and start rebuilding.
Now two months into the season, Bryant and Baez are back to peak level, the Cubs are in first place and the results suggests these players can be successful with the right pieces around them. Now all they need is to rescind the Yu Darvish trade.
That's the other question: If the Cubs couldn't afford to keep one of the NL's best pitchers on a reasonable contract, what chance do they have of re-signing their three big free agents, even with full capacity coming back to Wrigley Field on Friday?
"If they want to, absolutely they can," Rizzo told The Chicago Tribune over the weekend. "The game is thriving with all the TV deals, the revenue (streams). If that's their out and it's time to go, so be it."
The thing is, keeping Bryant, Baez and Rizzo likely wouldn't require a big increase in payroll. After being eligible for arbitration this winter, Bryant is making $19.5 million this season and Baez $11.6 million. Rizzo, in the final year of a long-term deal he signed in 2014, is making $16.5 million.
How much more could those guys make on the open market? There have been several big deals in the $300 million range the past few years given to Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor. Will any team come after Bryant with that sort of offer? It's possible, but some of the big-spending clubs might be tapped out after losing fans to the pandemic.
For Rizzo, if his hitting stats don't perk up this season, an argument could be made that he might be in for a pay cut from this year's salary, especially considering Rizzo turns 32 in August.
There was talk that Baez was offered an extension in the spring of 2020 in the neighborhood of $15 million per year, which could be where he lands for a new deal.
But anything could happen. Barring an unexpected in-season agreement, those three players can only wait for offers when the season ends and the Cubs have no control over what any of them decide. All three have repeatedly stated a desire to stay with the Cubs.
"I don't know their financial situation," Bryant said. "But the Chicago Cubs are doing well. So theoretically, yes, you can sign whoever you want."