Cubs Have Had "Preliminary Conversations" with the Red Sox About an Anthony Rizzo Trade

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Cubs Have Had “Preliminary Conversations” with the Red Sox About an Anthony Rizzo Trade

Chicago Cubs

I wouldn’t say I *completely* poo-poo’d Buster Olney’s suggestion that Anthony Rizzo would wind up on the Red Sox by the end of this week, but I would say that I agreed with Tim Kurkjian kinda poo-poo’d it. In short, it’s very hard for me to see the Cubs getting the kind of offer for Rizzo at this moment where they would say, OK, that’s enough to cut these ties.

But, in confirmation of what Olney was implying, Jeff Passan today reports that talks have happened between the Cubs and Red Sox:

Rizzo’s [market] is not so robust, which is to be expected for a position player about to enter free agency. And yet the Cubs have at least had preliminary conversations with Boston about a deal for Rizzo, according to sources, as Boston has the worst first-base production of any team in baseball this season.

Like I said yesterday, the fit for the Red Sox is obvious here, and is probably where a lot of the speculation – and even conversations – comes from. If the Cubs were going to talk to any team at this moment about Anthony Rizzo, it was going to be the Red Sox.

Still, I land where I landed yesterday, particularly in reference to the price tag the Rays paid to acquire Nelson Cruz, an almost-certainly more valuable trade piece:

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.

The point there isn’t about giving Rizzo some kinda pseudo no-trade rights. Instead it’s just me being realistic about what the market will bear in trade for Rizzo. Since it almost certainly won’t be the caliber of haul where you can convince the world – including Rizzo – that you just HAD TO pull the trigger, I think the only way a deal for much less happens is if Rizzo wants it to happen. In that case, the Cubs get some kind of return, but also haven’t really closed any doors on a reunion after the season.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.