Cubs

Where Cubs payroll stands after the arbitration deals

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USA TODAY

Where Cubs payroll stands after the arbitration deals

The Cubs' 2019 payroll figure became a bit more clear on Friday, as the team agreed to deals with all seven of their arbitration-eligible players.

Of the seven players, shortstop Addison Russell — who is serving a 40-game suspension for domestic violence — has perhaps the most interesting contract. Russell's contract is worth $3.4 million, though he will lose about $600K while serving the remaining 28 games of his suspension. 

Russell could recoup the lost salary through five bonuses if he is on the active roster for 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 days, respectively. The shortstop made $3.2 million in 2018 and was projected to make $4.3 million in 2019, though his suspension surely affected the figure that he ultimately received.

Here are the salary figures for the other six arbitration-eligible Cubs:

-Javier Báez -$5.2 million 

-Kris Bryant - $12.9 million 

-Carl Edwards Jr. - $1.5 million

-Kyle Hendricks - $7.405 million 

-Mike Montgomery - $2.44 million

-Kyle Schwarber -$3.39 million 

Despite this offseason being his first as an arbitration player, Báez's salary is the biggest surprise of the group. Not only was he the Cubs' best player in 2018, but he also finished second in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.  In fact, MLB Trade Rumors projected Báez to receive $7.1 million.

Bryant, who is in his second year of arbitration, will see his salary increase modestly from 2018. His $10.85 million salary last season set the record for the highest awarded to a first-year arbitration player. Hendricks, who is also a second-year arbitration player, will receive a substantial raise from the $4.175 that he made in 2018.

Edwards Jr. ($594,000), Montgomery ($611,250) and Schwarber ($604,500) will all receive handsome raises from 2018. However, they were not eligible for arbitration until this offseason, hence the hefty raises.

If Russell does ultimately recoup the $600K, the Cubs will pay the aforementioned seven players about $36.235 million combined, short of the $38.9 million total projected by MLBTR. The difference here is marginal, but it's worthy to note when considering how the Cubs' budget constraints have been discussed at length.

Including the estimated $14.5 million for player bonuses and $2.2 million for minor league players on the 40-man roster, Friday's deals will push the Cubs' projected 2019 Opening Day payroll to a little more than $225 million.

The projection does not account for any additions that the Cubs could still make, such as adding bullpen help and/or a backup catcher. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that the Cubs will surpass MLB's $206 million luxury tax threshold by a wide-margin. Hopefully this puts things into perspective for any fans clamoring for the Cubs to make more offseason moves. 

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Yu Darvish thinks Houston Astros should be stripped of 2017 World Series title

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USA Today

Yu Darvish thinks Houston Astros should be stripped of 2017 World Series title

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal is personal for a lot of players, though it probably hits a little differently for Yu Darvish. 

Darvish was a member of the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers team that Houston beat in the World Series. Darvish didn't have his best performance in the series and when asked about the scandal, the Cubs' pitcher didn't hold back:

It's a weird feeling. Like, in the Olympics, when a player cheats, you can't have a Gold medal, right? But they still have as World Series title. That makes me feel weird. That's it. And one more thing. With [Carlos] Correra talking about [Cody] Bellinger. I saw that yesterday. So they cheat, and I think right now that they don't have to talk. They shouldn't talk like that right now.

You can watch the video of Darvish's comments, from ESPN's Jesse Rogers, it right here.

The comments took on a life of their own, as Astros' soundbytes have been known to do over the last few weeks or so. Darvish was ready for the clapback, though, and delivered a final blow to some poor 'Stros fan who thought he could compete with Darvish on twitter dot com. 

Sign a lifetime contract, Yu. Never leave us.

Related: Bryant crushes Astros for cheating scandal: 'What a disgrace that was' 

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Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

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USA TODAY

Jason Kipnis comes home looking to write one final chapter of his career

Jason Kipnis, who’s potentially the Cubs’ new second baseman but indisputably the pride of Northbrook, said there’s one major reason why his possible reunion with Wrigley Field is so exciting.

“Now I don’t have to hate the 'Go Cubs Go' song,” he quipped.

Kipnis was a late addition to the Cubs’ roster, and still not even a guaranteed one at that. After almost a decade spent being one of the Cleveland Indians’ cornerstones, Kipnis arrived in Mesa on a minor league contract, looking to win a job. Ironically, being with his hometown team is unfamiliar territory for the two-time All-Star. 

“[Leaving Cleveland] was hard at first,” he said. “You get used to the same place for 9-10 years, and I think it’s a little hard right now coming in and being the new guy and being lost and not knowing where to go. But it’ll be fun. It’s exciting. It’s kind of out of the comfort zone again, which is kind of what you want right now – to be uncomfortable. I don’t know, I’ve missed this feeling a little bit, so it’ll be good.”

It was a slow offseason for the second baseman, but the second baseman said he was weighing offers from several teams. Opportunity and organizational direction dictated most of his decision-making, but Kipnis admitted the forces around him were all, rather unsubtly, pulling him in one direction.

“They were telling me to take a deal, take a cut, whatever. Just get here,” he joked. “... It made sense, it really did. I think I didn't fully understand it until it was announced and my phone started blowing up and I realized just how many people this impacted around my life. Friends and family still live in Chicago, so it’s going to be exciting.”

The theme of renewed motivation has hung around Sloan Park like an early-morning Arizona chill, and Kipnis said part of the reason he feels the Cubs brought him in is to set a fire under some guys. He talked with Anthony Rizzo during the offseason, who talked about how the Cubs had struggled at times to put an appropriate emphasis on each of the 162 games in a regular season. That’s not a new problem in baseball, and it struck a chord with Kipnis, who himself was on plenty of talented Cleveland teams that never got over the hump. 

“They got a good core here. I’m well aware of that, they’re well aware of that, too,” he said. “I texted him and called him and asked him what happened last year, because I look at rosters, I look at St. Louis’, I look at all that, and I’m like, ‘I still would take your guys' roster.’” 

As for his direct competition, Kipnis said he hasn’t had a chance to really get to know Nico Hoerner yet, but doesn’t feel like the battle for second base has to be a contentious one by any means. At 32, Kipnis has been around long enough to understand the dynamics an aging veteran vs. a top prospect, and doesn't feel like it’s a situation where only one of them will end up benefiting. 

“I know he came up and had a pretty good success, so I think [it’s] going to be a competition, but at the same time, I’m not going to try to put him down,” he said. “I’d like to work with him, kind of teach him what I know too and hopefully both of us become better from it.”