The Chicago Cubs core that ended the 108-year World Series drought in 2016 may be entering its final season together. The Cubs said goodbye to Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber this past offseason, and stalwarts Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo will become free agents after the season. Bryant continues to be a popular name on the trade rumor circuit.
Contract extensions with Baez and Rizzo seem more likely than an extension with Bryant, though Rizzo confirmed no deal is imminent Monday morning. He does not want to negotiate during the season and said the two sides won't have an extension in place before Opening Day.
Anthony Rizzo said he and the Cubs will not have a contract extension before opening day: "Like I've said before, I love Chicago. I love the fans. I love Wrigley Field and what being a Chicago Cub is all about. ... It didn't work out thus far and that's OK. I'm at peace with it." pic.twitter.com/tNAAJqZhJY— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) March 29, 2021
Rizzo also said, "I can't tell you what the future holds," according to Russell Dorsey of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Cubs exercised their $14.5 million club option for Rizzo over the offseason. It was part of the team-friendly seven-year, $41 million extension he signed in March 2013. The contract included two club options that have since been exercised and will pay Rizzo a little less than $57 million total (after salaries were prorated for the 60-game season a year ago).
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Rizzo, 31, has been one of the most productive first basemen in baseball the last decade. The five-time All-Star has authored a .280/.385/.507 batting line and averaged 32 home runs per 162 games since 2014. He had a down year in 2020 (.222/.342/.414) though was hardly the only veteran to underperform during the unusual pandemic season.
Paul Goldschmidt's five-year, $130 million extension with the NL Central rival Cardinals would seem to be a good benchmark for a potential Rizzo extension. Goldschmidt signed his contract at the same age Rizzo is now, and they're similar ultra-productive face of the franchise types at first base. It's a logical fit.
The Cubs went 34-26 and won the NL Central last season, but were swept by the Marlins in the best-of-three Wild Card Series. The club figures to contend for the division title again this year despite cutting payroll over the winter.