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Cubs avoid salary arbitration with a trio of stars who struggled in 2020

Kris Bryant struggled through injuries last season for the Cubs.
Kris Bryant struggled through injuries last season for the Cubs.Tony Dejak/Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs avoided arbitration with three of their biggest stars, agreeing to one-year deals with third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Javier Báez, and catcher Willson Contreras on Friday.

Bryant, who struggled through injuries in his worst season, is set to earn $19.5 million. Baez is due $11,65 million and Contreras $6.65 million.

The Cubs also agreed to an $8.63 million deal for next season with pitcher Zach Davies, acquired in the trade that sent NL Cy Young Award runner-up Yu Darvish to San Diego.

The Cubs were unable to reach a deal with outfielder Ian Happ and are headed to arbitration for just the third time since 1993.

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Báez, the 2018 NL MVP runner-up and two-time All-Star, struggled in a big way at the plate last season. His averaged dropped 78 points to .203, and he hit just eight homers with 24 RBIs. Baez earned $3,703,704 prorated from a $10 million salary.

Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP, batted .206 — by far his career low. He had just four homers and 11 RBIs. Bryant earned a prorated $6,888,889 portion of an $18.6 million salary.

Contreras came on strong down the stretch at the plate to finish with a .243 average, 7 homers, and 26 RBIs. The two-time All-Star, who threw out nine runners stealing, earned $1,666,667 prorated from a $4.5 million salary.

Davies went 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 starts for San Diego last season, earning a prorated $1,944,444 portion of a $5.25 million salary.

Happ led the Cubs with 12 homers and was second on the team with 28 RBIs. He finished with a .258 average after slumping in September. He earned $231,111 prorated from a $624,000 salary.

Yankees reach deals with Kluber, LeMahieu

The Yankees made a pair of big moves on the free agent market, reaching a deal with righthander Corey Kluber worth $11 million for one year and agreeing to a six-year, $90 million contract to keep AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because each agreement is subject to a successful physical.

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Kluber, the 2014 and 2017 AL Cy Young Award winner, won 56 games for Cleveland over the 2016-18 seasons. Traded after the 2019 season to Texas, Kluber tore a muscle in his right shoulder in his Rangers debut on July 26, finishing his season after one inning.

Kluber, who turns 35 on April 10, is a three-time All-Star who is 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 seasons, the first nine with the Indians.

LeMahieu, who turns 33 in July, became the first player to win undisputed batting titles in both leagues. He won his first AL batting title last year at .364, after winning the NL title with Colorado in 2016.

The Yankees also avoided arbitration with slugging outfielder Aaron Judge when they agreed to a one-year contract worth $10,175,000.

Mixed results for Dodgers

Dodgers outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger ($16.1 million), shortstop Corey Seager ($13.75 million), and lefthander Julio Urías ($3.6 million) agreed to one-year contracts with the World Series champions that avoided salary arbitration. But the club couldn’t come to terms with ace Walker Buehler or catcher Austin Barnes. Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP and 2017 NL Rookie of the Year, hit a career-low .239 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in the shortened season, down from .305, 47, and 115 the year before, all career bests. Seager, MVP of the NL Championship Series and World Series, hit .307 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs in 2020 . . . NL batting champion Juan Soto ($8.5 million), shortstop Trea Turner ($13 million), and first baseman Josh Bell ($6.35 million) agreed to 2021 contracts for substantial raises with the Nationals. The Nationals also agreed to terms with 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Armando Cruz and nine other international free agents . . . The Phillies agreed to one-year contracts with first baseman Rhys Hoskins ($4.8 million), righthander Vince Velasquez ($4 million), and lefthander Jose Alvarado to avoid salary arbitration . . . Also avoiding arbitration were the Brewers’ Josh Hader ($6,675,000) and Rangers Gold Glove winners Joey Gallo ($6.2 million) and Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($2 million).

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Chapman gets a raise from A’s

Oakland gave third baseman Matt Chapman a hefty salary bump to $6.49 million to avoid arbitration after he made $230,926 in prorated pay of his $623,500 salary in 2020. The two-time Gold Glove winner’s year was cut short by a hip injury in September. He was limited to 37 games before undergoing surgery, batting .232 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs. The Athletics also signed righthander Chris Bassitt ($4.9 million), lefthander Sean Manaea ($5.95 million), outfielder Mark Canha ($6,925,000), righthander Frankie Montas ($1.8 million), and Lou Trivino ($912,500) … The AL champion Rays agreed to 2021 contracts with righthander Tyler Glasnow ($4 million), outfielder Manuel Margot ($3.4 million), infielder Joey Wendle ($2.25 million), and righthander Yonny Chirinos ($1.175 million) … The Indians avoided salary arbitration with catcher Austin Hedges, righthander Phil Maton, and infielder Amed Rosario — three players who joined them via trade in the past six months … The Pirates avoided arbitration with righthanded pitcher Joe Musgrove ($4.5 million).

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Lindor, Mets agree on one year, $22.3 million

The Mets agreed to one-year contracts with seven players to avoid salary arbitration, including shortstop Francisco Lindor, outfielder Michael Conforto, and first baseman-outfielder Dominic Smith. Lindor will earn $22.3 million and Conforto gets $12.25 million in their final years before potentially becoming free agents, while Smith agreed to a $2.55 million deal in his first year eligible for arbitration. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo ($4.7 million) and righthanders Edwin Díaz ($7 million), Seth Lugo ($2,925,00) and Robert Gsellman ($1.3 million) also agreed to one-year deals. Lindor was acquired from Cleveland last week along with starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco … The Angels avoided arbitration with righthander Dylan Bundy ($8,325,000), lefthander Andrew Heaney ($6.75 million), righthander Mike Mayers ($1.2 million), righthander Felix Peña ($1.1 million), and catcher Max Stassi ($1.6 million). Two-way standout Shohei Ohtani is their last remaining player eligible for arbitration. The club also announced a one-year, $1.5 million pact with catcher Kurt Suzuki, who played for Washington last season … The Rockies avoided arbitration with lefthander Kyle Freeland ($5.025 million) and righthander Jon Gray ($6 million) … The Orioles agreed to a one-year deal with slugger Trey Mancini, who missed the entire 2020 season while recovering from Stage 3 colon cancer.

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White Sox sign Hendriks, Cuban prospect

The White Sox finalized a $54 million, three-year deal with former Oakland closer Liam Hendriks, and landed the top international prospect, agreeing to a $2.05-million deal with prized Cuban outfielder Yoelqui Céspedes. They also avoided arbitration with their remaining eligible players, agreeing to one-year contracts with ace Lucas Giolito ($4.15 million) and starter Reynaldo López ($2.1 million) … The Tigers agreed to a $6.5 million contract with Matthew Boyd, avoiding arbitration with the lefthander who struggled in 2020, going 3-7 with a 6.71 ERA in 12 starts. The Tigers also agreed to deals with lefthander Daniel Norris ($3,475,000), infielder Jeimer Candelario ($2.85 million), and outfielder JaCoby Jones ($2.65 million) …The Astros agreed to one-year contracts with righthander Lance McCullers Jr. ($6.5 million) and infielder Aledmys Díaz ($3 million). Houston also finalized a $12.5 million, two-year deal with reliever Pedro Báez that includes a club option and could be worth $19.5 million for three seasons. Last season he was 0-0 with a 3.18 ERA and two saves in 18 appearances for the Dodgers. McCullers had a solid 2020 after missing a season after Tommy John surgery. McCullers was 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 11 starts last season. Shortstop Carlos Correa is Houston’s only only arbitration-eligible player who remains unsigned.