With the 2021 baseball season scheduled to start in just three days, longtime Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has instructed his agents to terminate contract extension talks with the Cubs. Rizzo will now be eligible to become a free agent when the upcoming season ends.
While Rizzo made it clear that his desire is to remain a Cub, he said he did not want negotiations to be a distraction during the season. He did say that if the Cubs came back during the season and agreed to something close to what his final request was, he would sign it, but otherwise he said he wanted his total focus to be on baseball. But he would not engage in the back-and-forth of negotiations.
Rizzo said that he’s been around the game long enough to understand that this it’s a business. During his call with the media, Rizzo explained:
When you think of the actual business side of it, you can’t just be naïve to think that just because of what I’ve done here, and what I’ve expressed, they’re just going to hand me a contract. Have to go out and earn it. I look forward to just continuing to play.
The two sides are reportedly far apart, with Rizzo reportedly looking for something similar to what Paul Goldschmidt signed with the Cardinals: five years and $130 million. The Cubs were reportedly offering far less than that, both in terms of years and dollars.
Rizzo has been with the Cubs since the 2012 season. He’s made three All-Star Games with the Cubs, has four Gold Gloves, one Platinum Glove and one Silver Slugger Award. In nine seasons in Chicago, Rizzo has hit .274/.374/.492 with 228 home runs and 744 RBI. He finished the final out of the 2016 World Series when he caught Kris Bryant’s throw from third in Game 7.
So Rizzo will head into the 2021 season and will likely become a free agent thereafter. While Rizzo has made it clear to the Cubs that he wants to remain with the team for the rest of his career, today’s developments made that proposition significantly less likely.