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An update on where Anthony Rizzo’s contract extension talks stand

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He wants to stay. The Cubs want him to stay.

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Anthony Rizzo is the face of the Cubs franchise.

On that, almost all Cubs fans would agree. His play on the field combined with his off-field charitable work has made him a popular player in Chicago.

In 2013, he signed what would turn out to be a far under-market contract that takes him through the end of the 2021 season.

Per this Gordon Wittenmyer article at NBC Sports Chicago, Rizzo clearly understands his value to the franchise and states flat out that he wants to stay:

“I want to be here for the rest of my career. I want to be here 25 years from now when the Cubs are in the World Series, throwing out first pitches,” he said. “I’ve seen other Cubs greats come back. That motivates me to keep getting better.”

The part about seeing “other Cubs greats come back” is clearly significant to Rizzo. He was one of the players who insisted that Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins be a big part of the Cubs’ 2016 World Series celebration. He “gets it,” for lack of a better term.

Wittenmyer’s article notes that there is a “soft deadline” of Opening Day for Rizzo and the team to get a deal done:

“I’m very optimistic,” the three-time All-Star said of extension negotiations that began before spring training began last month. “We’ve had really good conversations top to bottom.”

“Right now this next two and a half weeks is pretty much the only time that is exclusive to the Cubs from a bargaining standpoint,” said Rizzo, who’s making $16.5 million in the final year of what turned into a nine-year, $72 million contract he signed as a rookie in 2013.

I understand that. Players don’t want to be distracted with contract negotiations while the regular season is ongoing. We are 19 days from Opening Day and you’d think that would be enough time to make a deal with Rizzo, who Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer thought enough of to acquire him twice, once while Hoyer was general manager of the Padres and again when Hoyer re-joined Theo Epstein with the Cubs. Rizzo took note of that:

“I’ve been around Theo and Jed for 15 years now,” said Rizzo, who was drafted by the Red Sox in 2007 when both Epstein and Hoyer ran that front office, then traded to San Diego when Hoyer left to become Padres GM in 2010 and eventually traded to the Cubs when Epstein and Hoyer reunited in Chicago before the 2012 season.

“They’re cut from the same cloth as far as transparency with me and our relationship and the ups and downs of my health battle [with cancer as a minor-leaguer] and career and extension and winning,” Rizzo said. “Just everything has been very easy for us to talk, to communicate with Theo, and same with Jed. It’s been seamless.”

Personally, I don’t want to see Rizzo play a game in another uniform. He has what Bill James used to call “old player skills,” in other words power and on-base percentage, skills that will decline with age but perhaps not as much as they might for some others.

Overall, Rizzo’s numbers were down somewhat in the abbreviated 2020 season, but that was the case for a lot of players — and this is something that has happened to Rizzo before, when it takes him a month or two of games before he goes on a hot streak. Further, his BABIP was way down in 2020, to .218, way below his career BABIP of .286. So he was clearly hitting into a bit of bad luck last summer. I have no doubt that he’ll return to form in 2021.

What sort of contract extension would you offer Rizzo? 2021 is his age-31 season (he’ll turn 32 in August), so I’d say five years is not unreasonable.

How about five years, $100 million, with a couple of mutual option years after that?

Poll

Regarding a contract extension for Anthony Rizzo...

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    ... sign him to a deal like the one mentioned in the article
    (501 votes)
  • 19%
    ... sign him to an extension, but for a different amount of years and/or dollars
    (131 votes)
  • 4%
    ... let him walk after 2021
    (31 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (6 votes)
669 votes total Vote Now