Bryant and Russell, along with reliever Justin Grimm, will submit their salary requests to an arbitrator on Friday, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and other reports. The three players will still be able to negotiate new contracts with the team, but faced a Friday deadline to file their salary requests.
Bryant could potentially break the record for highest salary given to a first-year arbitration eligible player. He hit 29 home runs and drove in 73 RBI for the Cubs last season, an impressive follow-up to his MVP award winning 2016 campaign.
2017 Chicago Cubs: A Year In the Life of the Champs
MLB Trade Rumors is projecting Bryant to make $8.9 million for the 2018 season, but it’s unclear what Bryant’s exact demands are.
Russell had an up and down season that was marked with both personal and professional challenges, hitting just .239 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI in 385 plate appearances. The shortstop likely won’t see a huge pay bump with his new deal thanks to Javier Baez’s strong 2017 season, but he is still projected to make around $2.3 million next season by MLB Trade Rumors.
Grimm, whom many experts thought could be non-tendered by the Cubs as free agency began, will remain with the team despite putting up a 5.53 ERA and striking out 59 batters in 55.1 innings last season.
Arbitration hearings for players are generally scheduled for early February.