Third baseman Kris Bryant avoided arbitration with the Chicago Cubs, agreeing Friday to an $18.6 million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. Bryant got a significant boost from the $12.9 million he earned last year.
Chicago also agreed to a $1,575,000, one-year contract with outfielder Albert Almora Jr.
The 2016 NL MVP, Bryant rebounded from an injury-filled season to bat .282 with 31 homers and 77 RBIs.
It remains unclear whether he will remain with the team he led to the 2016 World Series championship, the Cubs' first title since 1908. Chicago's thin minor league system, the prospects Bryant could bring back in a trade, the large contract the three-time All-Star would figure to command as a free agent have all thrown his future into question. He also has a pending grievance he filed in the hope of becoming a free agent one year earlier than scheduled.
The third baseman debuted on April 17, 2015, leaving him one day shy of the service time needed to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Bryant contends he was held in the minors in a deliberate effort to delay his free-agent eligibility and that delay violated baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
The Cubs hope Almora can rebound after his batting average dropped 50 points to .236 and his on-base percentage fell from .323 to .271. The former first-round pick hit just .213 against left-handers even though he is a righty. And his average on balls in play was .255.
The Cubs reached the deals just before Friday's scheduled exchange of proposed arbitration salaries. Eligible players also included star shortstop Javier Báez, All-Star catcher Willson Contreras, slugger Kyle Schwarber and reliever Kyle Ryan.
Chicago missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014 with an 84-78 record. The Cubs hired former catcher David Ross to replace Joe Maddon as manager, hoping “Grandpa Rossy” could give them a spark.