The Rundown: Maddon and Bryant Get Raises, Cubs Have Room for Moves, D-Backs Asked About Montero

“I didn’t know that,” Joe Maddon said Thursday when publicly informed of a lucrative escalator in his contract. “It’s very nice. That’s all good. But I’ve never even seen one of my paychecks.”

As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported, winning the World Series triggered a $1 million annual raise over the final three years of the five-year, $25 million contract Maddon originally signed. That $6 million salary ties the Cubs skipper with Mike Scioscia of Anaheim and Bruce Bochy of San Francisco for the title of highest-paid manager in baseball.

If you recall, Maddon came to Chicago after being made aware of an opt-out clause in his Rays contract that allowed him to seek other employment. It seems unfathomable to most of us that someone would be oblivious to such major contractual loopholes, but that’s kinda just how Maddon rolls.

The Cubs manager seems like the kind of guy who just needs enough in his bank account to cover gas for Cousin Eddie, tires on his bike, and wine in the rack (and in the cellar, fridge, and available shelf space). Which is why the real benefactors are more likely to be those people and causes close to Maddon’s heart.

“When this all came about,” Maddon said, “my first thought was, ‘The more you can make, the more you can give back.'”

One of the ways he has given back is the Hazleton Integration Project, an effort to enrich the lives of economically disadvantaged youth and adults in Maddon’s hometown of Hazleton, PA. While we at Cubs Insider don’t have much in the way of wealth, we do want to give back as much as we can. As such, we’re going to continue to work with HIP and other such causes throughout the season.

As such, we may be holding another raffle in the near future, one with a significantly bigger prize than what we were able to offer the first time around. We’ll need your help to really make it a success, so be on the lookout for more information.

Bryant’s new deal sets record

Raises were the order of the day around Mesa, as the Cubs agreed to terms with 25 pre-arbitration players on the 40-man roster. While terms were not immediately disclosed in most of those deals, it was reported that Kris Bryant received the largest salary ever for a second-year player.

What’s amazing, though, is that Bryant’s $1.05 million deal is only $50,000 more than the raise Maddon received. Of course, the sparkly-eyed superstar is probably pulling in appreciably more money from his outside endorsement deals. And then there’s the matter of what is sure to be a monster contract that will provide him more than enough wealth down the road.

Baseball’s salary structure is such that teams need to have enough high-performing young players on arb and pre-arb contracts to offset big-money free agents. Ah, but those stars like Bryant and Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, and Kyle Hendricks will eventually command big money of their own.

The good news for the Cubs is that they’re projected to be way under a luxury tax cap that is set to go up over the next several years.

Cubs can make moves

While Bryant’s bump — not to mention some of the others for his young teammates — could impact the projections, FanGraphs has the Cubs approximately $24 million shy of the tax threshold (link immediately above). That means they’ve got lots of room to add salary via trade, free agency, or contract extensions.

Most of anything they’ll take on over the next few seasons figures to come from those latter two buckets, considering the need to replace starting pitchers and retain core position players. That’s where getting some help from young arms like Thomas Hatch, Trevor Clifton, and Dylan Cease would really come in handy. Remember that whole thing about impact talent that hardly impacts the bottom line?

There’s also the gradual increase of the tax line from $195 million this season to $210 million — or $25 million less than the Dodgers’ current payroll — in 2021. And you figure John Lackey‘s salary comes off the books, along with Jake Arrieta‘s. And Miguel Montero‘s. Even Jon Jay‘s relatively insignificant sum melts away.

I’m not going to speculate on exactly what the Cubs will try to do over the next five years, other than to say they’ll have no shortage of cash and will most certainly be working on extensions for some of their core stars. Not only would it be good to lock those players up, but doing so early in their careers would mean paying out much lower totals than they’d be due in free agency. It’s what we saw with Anthony Rizzo a couple years back.

D-backs asked about Montero?

Neither cheap nor young, Miguel Montero is pretty much the polar opposite of the guys I’ve been writing about. But he can still frame a pitch and can even hit a few if he’s healthy. And when he’s not busy blasting his manager in the aftermath of the World Series parade (it’s cool, though, they made up), the cagey veteran is a good guy to have around.

Maybe that’s why, as FanRag’s Tommy Stokke learned, the D-backs were asking the Cubs about the possibility of bringing their old backstop back. No details on how serious any of this got or whether it was just a matter of Jared Porter, Arizona’s assistant GM, drunk-dialing his old bosses in Chicago. Even with Montero seemingly running on fumes, he’s shown a propensity for coming up big when the lights are brightest.

And he’s pretty much a sunk cost, that old car that you keep patching up because it still runs and it doesn’t have any trade-in value.

More news and notes

  • Shelby Miller reportedly hit 99 mph this spring (same link as Montero news); somewhere, Dave Stewart is nodding approvingly
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