I was listening to Anthony Rizzo’s hit this morning on the radio with Dave Kaplan and Jonathan Hood on ESPN 1000, and while the majority was about baseball stuff – good and fine! – there was the obligatory extension question. They have to ask it (they haven’t had a chance yet), so I get it. But boy, I do not look forward to this talking point all season long.
Alas, that’s what happens when you don’t extend the face of your franchise before his walk year begins.
So anyway, Rizzo was asked if his agents update him on things with the Cubs – any talks that might be happening – if they were to come to the table with something new to discuss.
Rizzo’s answer was basically no.
When he talks to his agents now that the season has started, Rizzo said he just wants the conversations to be all normal stuff – team, baseball, scheduling, promotional items, etc. Like he said before, Rizzo just wants to focus on baseball right now, and it very much felt like a door was closed for the season from his perspective. Rizzo even said that he didn’t see a reason to engage in listening – he wouldn’t be rude about it – if the Cubs came to his agents with an update. For over a year, Rizzo feels he gave the Cubs every fair opportunity to be in these talks, and a deal didn’t get done. So that’s that.
Does that REALLY mean that? Oh, you never know what happens if the Cubs actually did come back to the table with an improved offer on the reported last one that featured a discouragingly low AAV. It’s not like Rizzo’s agents wouldn’t inform him of some material improvement in the situation, so you can’t rule out that this is all still part of the process. To my ear, though, listening to Rizzo? It sure doesn’t sound like this is just part of the process. It really sounded like Rizzo just doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.
Cubs President Jed Hoyer has said he’s “very confident” a deal eventually gets done with Rizzo, but it’s hard to see how that actually comes together, practically speaking. Maybe Hoyer is confident that, even after the season, the team and Rizzo can put a deal together. If Rizzo isn’t really open to engaging during the season, then it might have to be after the year. But when a guy reaches free agency for the first time in his career, and he really gets to be the one dictating what comes next, you cannot guarantee any outcomes. What if Rizzo wants a shot to play closer to home in Florida? What if some team goes way over the top with an offer? These are the risks you run.
It’s all disappointing. I hope for his part, Rizzo has a great and healthy 2021 season, leaving himself as many good options as possible. I hope for their part, the Cubs figure out a way to extend this relationship before November. Like I’ve said before: I understand that there are “efficiency” and “salary maximization” considerations with a first baseman who’s coming off a down year and will be 32 in August, but there are some players who just mean a lot more to a particular organization. It cannot just be about precise dollar-to-value calculations.