For all we know, Anthony Rizzo’s Chicago Cubs tenure is entering its final week. But given Rizzo’s recent cold spell, Jed Hoyer could have his hands full getting a return that will satiate a fan base that loves the three-time All-Star first baseman.
Whether it’s just one of those stretches that every ballplayer goes through or something more, the results haven’t been there for Rizzo, who has mustered just a .198/.316/.333 line since June 16, according to MLB.com.
"“Some of it may be just trying a little bit harder, right?” David Ross said. “When things aren’t going well, I think that’s natural.”"
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Last year, like many players throughout the game, Rizzo didn’t perform up to his usual standards. He was still solid in many regards, winning a fourth Gold Glove and getting on base at a .342 clip, but he slugged just .414 – a nearly 100-point drop from what he averaged from 2014 to 2019.
Those struggles have carried forward into the 2021 season, with Rizzo entering this weekend’s series against the Arizona Diamondbacks batting just .239/.337/.419 – giving him an OPS almost identical to what he put up in 2020.
"“When you get into ruts, you do whatever it takes,” Rizzo said. “There’s a routine that I have and I’ll just keep sticking to that and keep grinding.”"
Chicago Cubs: Will this cold spell keep Anthony Rizzo in the Windy City?
It’s worth wondering if, given the drop-off in his production the last two years, teams’ interest in Rizzo might wane a bit – at least to the degree that Jed Hoyer isn’t comfortable trading this generation’s Mr. Cub in exchange for pennies on the dollar.
Still, there are plenty of teams who could use an upgrade at first and, given the consistency we’ve seen from Rizzo in his career, you assume he’s going to get hot here at some point. The Boston Red Sox loom as the most obvious potential suitor given the fact the position has been a black hole for them this season.
For weeks, we’ve speculated on potential landing spots for not only Rizzo but Javier Baez, Craig Kimbrel and Kris Bryant – among others. But when it’s all said and done and the calendar flips over to August, there’s nothing saying these guys aren’t still playing for the Cubs. Hoyer isn’t going to make a trade just for the sake of making moves – he knows what he wants in return for these guys and if teams won’t meet his asking price, he’ll take his comp picks if they leave in free agency this winter.
Whether or not he finishes the year out on the North Side, Chicago needs its unofficial captain to get things rolling. Hopefully some home cooking at the Friendly Confines this weekend against the MLB-worst Diamondbacks is just what he needs to do so.