According to David Kaplan of NBC Sports: "Sources close to Bryant confirmed he is willing to listen to a long-term extension, but the Cubs' offers were not anywhere close to what other top third baseman in baseball have recently signed for."
Bryant is likely trying to get something in the neighborhood of the seven-year, $245 million deal Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels this offseason, or the eight-year, $260 million extension Nolan Arenado signed with the Colorado Rockies in February 2019.
"Sources close to the situation confirmed Bryant wants a deal that is commensurate with his peers in the game, preferably from the Cubs," Kaplan reported.
Granted, both of those players outpaced Bryant from a statistical standpoint last season:
- Bryant: .282 batting average, 31 homers, 77 RBI, 108 runs, .903 OPS
- Rendon: .319 batting average, 34 homers, 126 RBI, 117 runs, 1.010 OPS
- Arenado: .315 batting average, 41 homers, 118 RBI, 102 runs, .962 OPS
Based on numbers alone, Bryant will have a hard time arguing he's worth that level of pay. Arenado is also a seven-time Gold Glove winner, whereas Bryant has yet to win one.
But the 28-year-old Bryant—who is under club control for two more seasons after losing his service-time grievance against the Cubs—can make an argument that his versatility carries added value. He logged time at third in 115 games, 27 in right field, 23 in left field and three at first base last season.
He was a key player in the team's 2016 title, and he was named the National League MVP that season as well. Losing him would not play well with Cubs fans.
Granted, the Cubs may prefer to see Bryant continue to post elite numbers before signing him to a lucrative long-term extension. With two seasons until he's a free agent, they can be patient for now.
They can also dangle him in trade talks to see if a team is willing to extend a significant offer. It may make sense for the Cubs to explore that market if their short-term priority isn't winning titles.
The Cubs reportedly aren't hampered by a mandate to stay under the luxury-tax threshold, per Kaplan, despite a perception to the contrary. But if they want to keep Bryant, they'll eventually need to pay up.
"The Cubs still have some very good players," a source told Kaplan, "but unless they want to play with the big boys in the sport they are not going to be able to get their key guys to sign extensions unless they come to grips what these players can get from other clubs."