Cubs Rumors: Team not talking extension with Anthony Rizzo
The Chicago Cubs are clearly caught in between a rock and a hard place during this week’s Winter Meetings in San Diego.
The concerns over payroll and the ability to sign free agents to improve the team is clear and obvious. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) reported the Cubs have told low-budget free agents that money must be moved around before initiating negotiations.
Additionally, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported before the meetings began the Cubs were “aggressive” and “motivated” to make a trade. The Cubs have since had discussions with the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals about moving former Rookie of the Year and MVP Kris Bryant.
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The inability to extend young stars should be all the more evident after ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported that the Cubs have not been working on an extension with Anthony Rizzo.
"“The Cubs have informed us that they will not be offering Anthony an extension at this time,” Rizzo’s agent, Marc Pollack, said from the Winter Meetings. “Anthony has let his desire to be a Cub for life known to the organization. Although we do not know what the future holds, a deal to make that happen will not be addressed now.”"
Now, it should be clarified that the Cubs will almost certainly engage Rizzo’s camp in extension talks before the end of the 2021 campaign. The three-time All-Star was the heart and soul of Chicago’s rebuild at the beginning of the decade and has already cemented himself as one of the best players in franchise history.
However, this would seem to have major implications for the present situation this offseason while hammering home another simple truth: the Cubs are strapped for cash.
Unfortunately, billionaire owners are not keen on paying the luxury tax, even as the estimated value of their respective franchise continues to skyrocket. This is clearly the case with the Boston Red Sox, as owner John Henry has all but commanded new general manager Chaim Bloom to get the club closer to the competitive balance tax threshold.
Simultaneously, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman were determined not to let Gerrit Cole get away, signing him to a record-breaking contract that could force their hand once the likes of Aaron Judge prepare to hit the open market.
Free agency can have a ripple affect on internal operations, and vice versa.
Despite Jed Hoyer’s claims that extension talks are happening, it seems exceedingly unlikely that any such deal will get done – whether that is Javier Baez, Willson Contreras or Bryant – if the Cubs do not even feel comfortable initiating with Rizzo:
Of course, the latest news also makes sense from a business perspective. After all, the Cubs still have another club option on Rizzo next season. They save potentially tens of millions by sticking with Rizzo’s base salary next year.
But again, it does more to signify just how financially handicapped Epstein and Hoyer must be this winter. That is bad news for a team that wants to get back to playing in October sooner rather than later.