The Rockies have produced the free agent they’ve been looking for, as they reportedly agreed to the terms of a seven-year, $182 million deal with… Chris Bryant. The contract, which is waiting for a physical contract, also contains a complete no-trade clause. Bryant is a client of Boras Corporation.
Bryant will step in as the new face of a chain that has been traded away Nolan Arenado and look Trevor’s story Hit free agency for the past two seasons. It’s the largest free agent investment in franchise history, and one that will tie the All Four Stars to Denver during his 36-year season.
Entering the holiday season, few expected Colorado to make this kind of big spot. The Rockies have finished fourth in the NL West in each of the past three seasons, and are exiting a 74-87 show. Some outsiders have called on Colorado to tear things down and commit to a complete rebuild, but the ownership and front office emphasized that they don’t view the team as anything short of a feud.
Since the start of the season, Colorado has been targeting a major offensive upgrade to their outdoor mix. The Rockies have reportedly checked in with players like Kyle Schwarber And the Michael Konforto As well, but it turns out in recent days that Bryant was their target. Whether they’d spend on the level it took to reach it was questionable, but owner Dick Monfort signed a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $26 million to bring in one of the game’s most recognizable stars.
Bryant, of course, earned such acclaim during his days with the Cubs. The second overall pick in the 2013 draft, he immediately entered professional ball as one of the game’s top potential players. Bryant fulfilled these expectations, tore up the palace for a season and a half. Cubs delayed his major league debut a few weeks into the 2015 season to push his way into free agency, but made his debut in mid-April and landed as a superstar.
The University of San Diego producer hit .275/.369/.488 with 26 Homers in his first season, earning the National Junior League Player of the Year. Bryant hit a slightly troubling clip that year, but he significantly improved his call rate during his second season. The third base star hit .292/.385/.554 in 2016, won the NL MVP title and helped the Cubs to 103 wins and their first World Championship title in 108 years.
Chicago didn’t become the multi-year dynasty some fans expected, but Bryant continued to excel on generally good teams for the next few seasons. It combined for a .284/.390/.511 mark between 2017-19, ranking 17th among the position players in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement over that stretch. Bryant looked on his way to a huge free agent deal, but his production fell in 2020. During that year’s shortened season, he scored a .206/.293/.351 low streak in 34 games. What kind of production the Cubs can expect from him – as well as how his free-agent market ultimately can sound a lot in the air in 2021.
Bryant didn’t recover as MVP last season, but he made a comeback after a slump in 2020. He hit .267/.358/.503 on 374 board appearances on the north side. It wasn’t enough to keep the Cubs from slipping in the June and July that pulled them out of the postseason feud, and it became clear they were likely to move the impending free agent by July 30. Minutes before the trade deadline, the Cubs shipped Bryant to the Giants for Prospects Alexandre Canario And the Caleb Killian. This deal made Bryant ineligible to be featured with a qualifying offer, so the Rockies would not lose out on the draft pick to be added.
Its production decreased slightly in the Gulf region. Bryant hit .262/.344/.444 in 212 black and orange board appearances. However, it hit the market with a seasonal .265/.353/.481 product line. En route to his 30-year-old campaign with MVP pedigree, he appeared to re-emerge as one of the top prizes in this year’s category. MLBTR Rank Bryant as the fourth free agent of the winter in November, which he expected to receive a six-year warranty of $160 million.
Bryant’s actual deal comes above that mark, as he hits year seven and $22 million more, plus no-trade protection. Just Cory Seeger, who earned $325 million over ten years, secured the biggest guarantee among free agents this winter. (Carlos Correa And the Freddy Freeman You still have a chance to cross this mark.) Perhaps the rising investment suggests that Rocks had to pay a premium to convince Bryant to join a club that isn’t an obvious immediate contender. Despite the confidence of all the owners and the front office, Colorado still had a weaker roster than the loaded Dodgers, Giants and Padres of the NL West.
There is also the fact that the last two stars of Colorado did not leave the organization on the best terms. Arenado and the Rockies had a messy fallout before his exchange with the Cardinals, with Arenado famously saying he felt “disrespected” by then-general manager Jeff Preditch. Meanwhile, Storey said he was baffled by the organization’s decision not to trade him on last summer’s deadline; There is no indication that he is considering re-signing since entering the open market.
There is no doubt that Bryant and Rocky hope their long-term relationship will end happily. It’s the biggest move yet by first-year GM Bill Schmidt, who took over the baseball operations when Breditch stepped down last April. There is clearly a lot of risk in any kind of investment of this size, and Bryant’s profile is not without some areas of concern.
As mentioned, his 2021 campaign – while significantly improved from the 2020 numbers – was not a return to peak level. Bryant’s 123 wRC+ has been a personal low in any of his six career uncut seasons. By definition, this is still a solid business (23 percentage points above the league’s average offensive output) but it’s not the type of production that MVP would support. And Bryant never had the turbulent ball metrics one would expect from a player who has had so much success.
The average exit speed of 88.2 mph last season was in line with the league mark. His average speed out of the balls that hit the air (91.4 mph) was a hair above average (90.9 mph). Bryant performs better on metrics like strong call rate (40% vs. 35.4% league mark) and barrel percentage (10.3% vs 6.6% league average), but both marks are better than Elite. He’s always had a fair share of walking and hasn’t been particularly prone to turbulence since his rookie year, but his attachments are closer to the 44th-ranked wRC+ player last season (out of 135 hitters with over 500 board appearances) than a stellar performance.
There’s no doubt that manager Bud Black would put Bryant in the lineup on a daily basis, although he has specifically identified where the diamonds will be. He primarily played third base in his career, but Colorado has a Gold Glove-caliber defender in the hot corner in the Ryan McMahon. It seems likely that Bryant will spend the bulk of his time at the corner, at least next season. He ranked overall as a competent defender in the corners, although he did not seem comfortable managing the difficult right field at Oracle Park during his two months in San Francisco. Bryant has little experience in the center field, but he’s never been a regular option out there and would be mistaken for a position in Coors’ expansive field.
Despite Rox’s plan to use it, they made a huge financial commitment to add some star power to the lineup. The specific financial collapse has not been reported, but Jason Martinez Menu resource It is estimated that adding a $26 million salary to the books in 2022 would bring the Rocks player’s commitments to about $141 million. That’s just a touch below the $145 million opening day mark for 2019, which leaves little room for more additions unless Monfort signs an uncharacteristic level of spending.
There is enough uncertainty in the menu that it is not advisable for the Rockies to rest on their laurels now. They are clearly aiming to get back to the legitimate post-season row, and areas like Center Square and the Blackboard remain question marks. Colorado will have to keep moving forward—expanding payroll beyond Monfort’s previous comfort level and/or transacting from a thin ranch system for immediate assistance—if they are to take seriously the department’s hard runs. At the very least, though, the Rockies have indicated as emphatically as ever that they consider themselves capable of this kind of challenge—leading to an agreement not many had seen six months ago.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.