Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has stated in the past it’s not ideal to negotiate contract extensions during spring training, but as the team arrived to Mesa, Arizona in mid-February, he said the start of camp didn’t mean the team would be cutting off those talks.
That’s a good thing, because even though it took until the week of Opening Day, the Cubs were able to lock down one of their budding star for the foreseeable future.
The Cubs and Nico Hoerner agreed to a three-year extension, which the team made official Wednesday. The extension is worth $35 million, as ESPN reported Monday, and it will cover his final two years of arbitration and what would’ve been his first year of free agency. Combined with the $2.525 million deal the sides settled on for this season, Hoerner is set to earn $37.525 million from 2023-26.
Hoerner, who turns 26 in May, had a breakout season in 2022. He was worth 4 wins above replacement (per FanGraphs), he slashed .281/.327/.410 and he maintained an elite strikeout rate (11 percent, sixth-lowest among qualified major league hitters). His leadership qualities grew, and outside of a freak collision with an umpire in May and a right triceps strain in September, he was able to stay healthy and on the field. It was the first season of his career in which he played at least 50 games.
Hoerner was also one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball, though the Cubs’ offseason addition of Dansby Swanson has moved him back to second base (where he was a Gold Glove finalist in 2020). With that switch, the Cubs will be rolling out an elite up-the-middle tandem through at least 2026.
After being drafted 24th overall out of Stanford in the 2018 MLB Draft, Hoerner made his major league debut with the Cubs on Sept. 9, 2019. Barring another extension at the end of his new deal, Hoerner would hit free agency for the first time after his age-29 season.
This post was updated after Hoerner’s extension became official Wednesday night.