Bryant and the Cubs agreed to a one-year, $12.9 million contract Friday, avoiding an arbitration hearing, Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com reports. Bryant will earn a relatively small raise for a player of his stature after making $10.85 million last season. He didn't have a great case for a bigger contract after a shoulder issue limited him to just 13 homers and a career-low 125 wRC+ in 102 games.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Thursday that Bryant has progressed from his left shoulder injury as expected and should resume hitting in January, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. Bryant ended the year in the lineup for the Cubs, but he was playing at less-than-optimal health once he returned in September following an extended stay on the disabled list. That was reflected in his underwhelming numbers over the season's final month, during which the third baseman slashed .265/.354/.422. Fortunately for Bryant, surgery wasn't deemed necessary to address the shoulder, with the 26-year-old instead opting for rest and rehab to treat the matter. Epstein's update suggests everything has gone according to plan for Bryant during the first couple months of the offseason, so the expectation remains that he'll enter spring training without any limitations.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday that he doesn't believe Bryant will require offseason surgery on his left shoulder, Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com reports. Epstein echoed Bryant's statements, which the 26-year-old made following Tuesday's season-ending loss to Colorado in the NL Wild Card Game. Bryant missed a chunk of time in the second half of the 2018 campaign due to left shoulder inflammation, ending the year with just 102 games played after averaging 153 the past three seasons. When approached about potential offseason surgery in late July, Bryant scoffed at the idea and confirmed that he would return to the field later on, which he eventually did at the beginning of September. It should be noted that although his numbers weren't bad -- he slashed .265/.354/.422 last month -- Bryant's power appeared to be zapped and it was clear he wasn't his normal self at the plate.
Bryant went 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored Sunday against the Cardinals. Bryant had only one hit, but made it count by lacing a two-RBI double in the fifth inning. He suffered from an up and down campaign, battling a shoulder injury throughout the summer months which caused his numbers to dip. All told, he enters Monday's 163rd game hitting .274/.374/.463 across 449 plate appearances.
Bryant (wrist) returns to the lineup for Friday's game against the Cardinals. Bryant missed a pair of starts after getting hit in the wrist by a pitch in Tuesday's game against the Pirates. The injury was evidently not a serious one, as he's back in action for the final series of the regular season.