Jed Hoyer said late in the season that the Cubs had a few players in-house who they’d like to extend, with Nico Hoerner standing out as the most obvious candidate. Ian Happ made quite a case for himself with a healthy season that resulted in a Gold Glove, and he’s been very vocal about his desire to stay with the Cubs beyond next year.
That possibility is stronger than it was even a few months ago, when the Cubs were actively shopping Happ at the deadline, especially as Jed Hoyer looks to be more aggressive with his negotiations. Though the start of the regular season has typically represented a de facto deadline for new deals to be worked out, Hoyer said Wednesday that he prefers to have things buttoned up even earlier.
“Don’t hold me to this, but I don’t really love negotiating in spring training,” Hoyer told reporters. “The more I do it, the more I think it causes real tension. Guys want to start the season. I’ve watched many deals fall apart in spring training. I just don’t think it’s a great way to start the season. I think I’d like to push that up a little bit.”
As you may recall, Javy Báez was on the brink of an extension agreement in 2020 when the pandemic shut everything down. Talks ceased and he went on to have a very disappointing season, after which the talks never really rekindled. Anthony Rizzo wasn’t happy with the offers he received and advised his reps to cease negotiations late in spring training last year.
Hoyer is obviously quite familiar with those situations and would prefer to keep things from getting contentious, particularly if he’s finally going to lock in one of his star position players beyond their rookie deal. It helps that we’re not talking about players with the same cachet as those the Cubs have traded or allowed to walk away over the past two seasons.
In Hoerner’s case, an extension is much more doable because he’s still got three more years of club control and the Cubs can buy up his arb years at a steep discount over his fair market value. With a projected arbitration salary of just $2.2 million for 2023, Hoerner might be in line for something like $18 million through 2025. Getting the chance to bump that salary in a meaningful way while also locking in a few more years of security is something he’s amenable to.
“I talked to Nico Hoerner’s agent today,” Jess Rogers told Waddle & Silvy Wednesday afternoon. “He loves it there, he’s probably gonna sign up long-term.”
The only question is whether he’s signing on to be the shortstop of the future or whether the Cubs go out and make a big splash that moves him to second base. The former is better for Hoerner’s value, the latter is better for the team.