Buster Olney kicked up a lotta dust on Sunday Night Baseball, suggesting that the Boston Red Sox could trade for Anthony Rizzo. The Red Sox, Rizzo’s first organization, badly need a first baseman like Rizzo, so you can understand the mention at a superficial level.
Olney predicted Rizzo to the Red Sox, and explained:
Here was his reasoning on Anthony Rizzo to the Red Sox. pic.twitter.com/8gD1IN1rnm
— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) July 26, 2021
On his podcast today, Olney reiterated his belief, without qualification, that he thinks Rizzo winds up with the Red Sox. He asked Tim Kurkjian his thoughts.
Kurkjian: “I think he stays with the Cubs. I don’t think they can trade all those guys …. I think Rizzo stays, even though the Red Sox have to add someone who can play first base and hit left-handed, and Rizzo’s the perfect choice. But I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”
My gut goes with Tim on this one, and not for any sentimental reasons. We’ve discussed this many times before – the comparison of the value in trade to the value in keeping a guy like Rizzo, even in a non-competitive year. But now we’ve got another data point, so let me put the situation to you another way.
The Twins got a pretty decent return on Nelson Cruz – a couple Triple-A pitchers who were in the 10-15 range in the very good Rays system, and immediately slotted there (or little higher) in the Twins’ system. Do you think Rizzo would net more in trade right now than Cruz, who is only a DH, but who is one of the best available bats and just keeps on raking? Let’s assume the Cubs ate money to make that part of things equal. Aren’t you still thinking Cruz is more valuable – even if only to the AL teams – than Rizzo right now? And if that’s true, that means he nets less than the Twins got for Cruz. Which then raises the question: how much less than that could the Cubs justifiably take in a Rizzo trade, forgoing the realistic chance at re-signing him later (or making a qualifying offer and seeing what happens)? That is to say, I suspect the Cubs would take the Cruz return for Rizzo, but I don’t think they could realistically get it. And at something much less than that, I don’t see them trading him.
The only way I see a Rizzo trade happening is if a team steps up with a surprisingly strong offer – Cruz-like – and after a conversation with Rizzo (who doesn’t have no-trade rights, but there’s still a lot of standing there), it’s clear that he’s interested in making a run this year with another club. In that situation, you might not be totally ruling out a re-signing in the offseason – the goodwill is still there because you are (1) hooking Rizzo up with a playoff run, if that’s what he wants, and (2) making him ineligible to receive a qualifying offer, which should help him quite a bit.
But absent that kind of scenario, which I don’t see happening, I do not see a trade here. I do wonder what Olney is hearing, though, if I’m being honest.