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Cubs free agent target: Anthony Rizzo

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He’s probably not coming back. But let’s talk about him anyway.

Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

I’m going to preface this, before you get all bent out of shape, by saying that I don’t think the Cubs will bring Anthony Rizzo back. In fact, they probably shouldn’t at this point in his career.

A year ago, I would have said, “Lock him up for the rest of his career, he’s a productive player who is the face of the franchise.” There were reports that Jed Hoyer & Co. had made Rizzo a five-year, $70 million offer just before Opening Day. My guess is that Hoyer never thought Rizzo would take that offer and instead he and his agent would make a counteroffer. Instead, Rizzo cut off salary talks and wound up traded to the Yankees.

In hindsight, maybe he should have taken that offer. Rizzo had the worst year of his career (save for a brief 49-game trial in San Diego in 2011). He hit .248/.346/.446 (80-for-323) with 14 home runs for the Cubs, then after an initial flurry with New York, he wound up batting more or less the same for the Yankees as he had with the Cubs: .249/.340/.428 (43-for-173) with eight home runs.

Rizzo has dropped off from being a 4+ bWAR player from 2019 and earlier to about a 1 bWAR player the last two years. He’s got back issues that we are all well aware of.

Here’s what MLB Trade Rumors says about Rizzo:

As the longtime face of the Cubs, it seemed like the club would hammer out an extension with Rizzo even if they intended to take a step back in 2022. He’d already signed a seven-year extension in 2013, which turned into a nine-year contract once both club options were exercised. As of March 31st of this year, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was “very confident” a deal would get done and Rizzo had used the word “optimistic.” The Cubs’ initial offer was reportedly for five years and $70MM, while Rizzo sought something closer to Paul Goldschmidt’s $130MM deal. An agreement was not reached, and once the Cubs fell out of contention, Rizzo was traded to the Yankees.

At age 32, Rizzo’s play seems more solid than spectacular. He’s posted a 109 wRC+ in 819 plate appearances since 2020, roughly on par with Josh Bell, Jonathan Schoop, Miguel Sano, and Eric Hosmer. To sign Rizzo to a deal well beyond our projection would require placing a large value on intangibles, or expecting him to defy the aging curve and return to his 2019 form. Still, Rizzo is free of a qualifying offer and faces limited competition at first base unless Freddie Freeman and/or Brandon Belt make it to the market. Many clubs could find a spot for him, especially if the NL DH adds flexibility.

MLBTR’s projection is three years, $45 million. That’s a bit more than the AAV the Cubs were offering (that would have been $14 million) as well as fewer years.

Rizzo meant a lot to the Cubs for parts of 10 seasons. Very few Cubs in the post-World War II era have played that many years for the team, and of course he’s one of the World Series heroes.

I wouldn’t bring him back for that price. My questions to you are:

  • Would you bring him back to the Cubs and at what price?, and
  • Does the 3/45 suggested by MLBTR sound fair?

Have at it.

Poll

Anthony Rizzo...

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a 3/45 deal as suggested by MLBTR
    (515 votes)
  • 11%
    ... he will cost more than 3/45
    (195 votes)
  • 57%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (1017 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (45 votes)
1772 votes total Vote Now