In case you missed our discussion yesterday, I looked into what it would take to sign free agent first baseman Anthony Rizzo this offseason, and whether the Cubs should get back in the mix. It was a beefy discussion, so be sure to check it out, but the quick version goes something like this: On the right short-term deal, a reunion with Rizzo could make some sense for the 2022 Cubs, given their needs, their short-term plans and payroll status, and his underlying statistics from 2021 and projections for 2022.
The reason I’m mentioning it again today is that David Haugh and Bruce Levine on Inside the Clubhouse this morning got into the topic, and the exchange was surprising and informative:
Haugh: We mentioned [Kris Bryant], and that’s kind of silly to think about him coming to Chicago – on either side of town. But I did read a headline, I think it was BleacherNation.com, asking the question rhetorically about Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs having a reunion, what do you think about some of those possibilities?
Levine: I’ve heard that’s possible. I’ve heard that it’s not out of the realm of giving a two or three-year contract. What if you heard, once the lockout ends, that the Cubs signed Rizzo to a two-year, $40M contract with a third year option. Would that be shocking to you?
Well, how about that?
According to Levine, the Cubs could show at least some interest in re-signing Anthony Rizzo when the lockout ends, on the sort of deal that would align with the kinda-sorta short-term “window” in which the Cubs are operating.
Of course, adding Rizzo – alone – would make that window barely more than a peephole, but the broader point remains: the Cubs have more short-term dollars available than most teams (both in raw dollars, and in terms of the distance between their current payroll and the CBT) and can therefore offer higher average annual value deals over the next two(ish) years than most teams out there. And if the Cubs are serious about steering 2022 away from an immediate tank/rebuild as they’ve suggested, then they’ll have to land more of these short-term, high-AAV deals we’ve been talking about all winter.
Levine is pretty tapped into the Chicago baseball scene, so even the fact that he’s “heard that’s possible” would’ve been enough to get my attention. But when he started discussing the type of offer the Cubs could float, “a two-year, $40M contract with a third year option,” well, that turned my head. Sometimes, when a reporter starts to get specific on years and dollars and structure, it’s not entirely out of thin air. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Cubs or Rizzo’s camp were floating this report out there to negotiate through the media at a time when they can’t contact each other, but it just struck me as something to pay attention to.
As for the particulars, well, $20 million a year seems on the higher side for Anthony Rizzo, but guaranteeing only two years – especially these two years when the payroll is relatively tiny – really reduces any concern there. And for what it’s worth, it’s possible that third year option would be a club option, and at a lower average annual value, further explaining an even higher AAV in the guaranteed years. Again, these are the sort of chances – high AAV, but for extremely short terms – we’ve wanted the Cubs to take all along. Just because it’s an old friend who was traded away doesn’t mean you don’t give it the same consideration as any other player, right? These kinds of deals give the Cubs a chance to compete in the first-half, and if things go sideways, you explore your options come July.
Sadly, we’re still seemingly very far away from a lockout resolution, so this will have to remain academic for now. But the bottom line is pretty clear: Re-signing Anthony Rizzo is at least conceivable for the Cubs after the lockout. (For the more complete discussion of Rizzo’s and the Cubs’ situations, see here if you missed it yesterday.)