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The Cubs should give Anthony Rizzo a contract extension

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He should be made a Cub for life.

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 09:  Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs hits a single in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals during game three of the National League Division Series at Wrigley Field on October 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When we look back at Anthony Rizzo’s career, we will undoubtedly see the trade that acquired him from the Padres for Andrew Cashner as one of the best in Cubs franchise history.

He cranks out seasons every year that you can almost write down ahead of time: 32 home runs, about 105 RBI, .280/.390/.510, close to 100 walks, solid defense at first base, clubhouse leadership.

And then there are things like this:

Rizzo, himself a cancer survivor, not only donates money to pediatric cancer research through his foundation, but gives freely of his time to kids.

I mean, really you couldn’t invent a better player and person to have on your team.

And the Cubs currently have Rizzo under contract at far below market value for several more seasons. He’ll make just $7 million in 2018 and $12 million in 2019; if he were on the open market right now those salaries would at least double, if not more. Then the Cubs have two team options for 2020 and 2021 at $16.5 million each year, which they would no doubt exercise, as even those are below market.

Those four seasons will take Rizzo through his age-31 season in a Cubs uniform. He took a big step forward in walks and strikeouts during 2017, setting a career high in walks (91) while striking out fewer than 100 times for the first time in a full season, and fewer times (90) than he walked. These skills are likely to continue through his 30s. He’s also stayed remarkably healthy through the five full seasons he’s played as a Cub, playing fewer than 155 games only in 2014, when he missed some September games with back problems.

I think Rizzo should have the chance to retire as a Cub. How could the Cubs do this with the current contract?

They could exercise the 2020 and 2021 options now and then offer him a five-year extension at $125 million. That would “make up” for some of the money he’s currently “losing” because he signed an undermarket extension in May 2013. That was a real commitment on the part of Theo & Co., as Rizzo was then only in his first full major-league season. They had to be pretty sure he’d do great things, and he has rewarded everyone with All-Star seasons and consistent production, not to mention being an all-around good guy and leader.

Alternatively, they could tear up the 2020 and 2021 options and offer him a seven-year extension beginning in 2020 at, say, $175 million.

You might say it’s too early to do this. I say it isn’t, because having a player like this who in addition to his play on the field is the face of the franchise has value. Without taking anything away from the career of Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub,” Rizzo rates something close to that tag for this generation of Cubs fans.

Would you do this now? I would... because I want Rizzo at the center of more scenes like this:

Poll

Anthony Rizzo...

This poll is closed.

  • 36%
    Exercise his 2020 and 2021 options and give him five more years beyond that
    (863 votes)
  • 39%
    Tear up his 2020 and 2021 options and give him a seven-year extension after 2019
    (930 votes)
  • 22%
    It’s too early to do anything. Let his contract status ride for now
    (541 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (26 votes)
2360 votes total Vote Now