I understand that Anthony Rizzo couldn’t realistically expect to match Paul Goldschmidt’s five-year, $130 million extension with the Cardinals from a couple years ago. Like I said this morning, he and his camp could make arguments for it, but the reality is that even if he had a great season this year, it isn’t realistic that he’d land a $130+ million contract in free agency this winter at age 32.
But also had a mental lower-boundary of where the Cubs could start their offers and keep things reasonable. I was thinking they might be able to start their offers at around a $70 million guarantee if they wanted to stay very short in their initial offer, like three years.
Turns out, the Cubs’ initial offer was for $70 million guaranteed … but over five years:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 30, 2021
Five years at a $14 million AAV. That is surprisingly low, even for an opening offer. I’m still digesting this a bit. (The report says it also included possible escalators.)
Rizzo, who may turn 32 in August and may play “only” first base, is also the face of the franchise with an offensive skill set that could keep him very valuable well into his 30s. I won’t puff all up and say I’m offended on Rizzo’s behalf, but I will say it’s pretty easy to see why Rizzo’s camp decided on a hard Opening Day cut-off and isn’t optimistic that a deal will get done. Starting that low makes my suggesting of a bracketing approach to negotiations much more difficult.
Am I maybe not thinking clearly about the right price for Rizzo because I’m a fan who wants to see him stay with the Cubs forever? Yeah, probably. I have to admit it. Did I shoot too high from the hip this morning in identifying an AAV just under Goldschmidt’s? With a day to mull it, yeah, I probably did. As Rosenthal and Mooney point out, D.J. LeMahieu only got six years and $90 million in free agency at age 32, despite enormous seasons the last two years, and a decent bet that he stays very valuable over the next several. Maybe blowing my gasket about a $14 million AAV offer for Rizzo is off base.
But at the same time, this entire sport is about entertaining the fans. That is the reason it exists! Is being cold and calculating in an effort to maximize wins at the most efficient price tag part of that? Sure. We like to watch wins, and we like to watch wins over a long period of time. But we also like to watch players we enjoy. Players we feel connected to. That also has value.
And also? Taking care of the face of your franchise has value that goes beyond fan service or even his performance on the field. You gonna tell me this Rizzo situation doesn’t mean anything at all to future players who consider extensions? To future free agents who are pitched the idea that this is a players-first organization?
If the reporting here is accurate, the Cubs need to step up and revise their offer. Period. Five years and $70 million at this moment in time for Rizzo is an unacceptable offer. Maybe it won’t take much of a bump up to get Rizzo’s camp talking again, but it needs to happen. If Rizzo winds up walking and this was the best offer the Cubs made, it will not be hard to see how fans will never forget this one, regardless of how things actually play out for his next contract and his next half-decade of performance. That’s the nature of fans.