At various points during the MLB lockout, we got whispers of a potential plan to bring Anthony Rizzo back into the fold on the North Side. Of course, that’s not how things played out, with the 32-year-old first baseman returning to the Bronx on a two-year, $32 million deal – closing the door on any hopes of his return in 2022.
Perhaps someday, Rizzo will come back and finish his career with the Cubs. We can only hope that, with time and distance, the heated emotions that surfaced after Jed Hoyer and Chicago traded him to New York the day before the trade deadline last summer will cool. But for his part at least, Rizzo has zero regrets about starting this new chapter in his career.
"“It’s not like I’m sitting here saying I wish I had taken [the Cubs’ offer],” Rizzo said. “If I play four to six more years, I’m going to make more money than I would doing that. When it’s all said and done, we’ll see. But as of now, no regrets … I want to win. That’s definitely something that was important to me.”"
Last spring, Rizzo reportedly turned down a four-year, $60 million offer, as well as a five-year, $70 million one – which isn’t all that shocking given the bar he was probably looking at: Paul Goldschmidt’s five-year, $130 million extension with St. Louis. It seems like Rizzo saw an offer that covered the same span for about half the money and, right then and there, decided that was that.
And you can’t really blame the guy, either. Sure, he struggled during the shortened 2020 season (as a great many players did) – but he still brought home his third consecutive Gold Glove for his defensive work at first base. From 2014 to 2019, he was an elite presence on both sides of the ball, slashing .284/.388/.513 – good for a .901 OPS and 139 OPS+.
Cubs may wind up thankful they didn’t overpay to keep Anthony Rizzo
Long-term, though, it’s hard to see him ever recapturing that form. He’s markedly slowed at the dish the last two years (essentially a league average first baseman offensively) – and when you factor in nagging back injuries and the fact he turns 33 this summer, I can’t say I’m altogether upset about Hoyer not giving him a Goldschmidt-esque deal.
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Twelve months ago, I was a lot more upset about the two sides not getting a deal done. This guy meant more to the franchise than anyone in some time – but all good things must come to an end – and five years from now, we might wind up thankful the Cubs didn’t act on emotion and overpay, regardless of Rizzo’s standing in the locker room and the city, as a whole.