With Opening Day looming on Thursday, it doesn’t appear that the Cubs will have any contract extensions finalized with Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, or Kris Bryant prior to their first game, according to both NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan and ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers. This doesn’t necessarily mean at least one deal won’t eventually be worked out, since the Cubs “do not view Opening Day as a hard deadline,” Kaplan writes.
Of the trio, Bryant seems the least likely to sign an extension, as there hasn’t been much indication that the two sides have gotten far in negotiations. (As of March 10, Bryant said there hadn’t been any talks.) The outlook could be a bit more positive for both Baez and Rizzo, since Baez has already expressed that he and his representatives were willing to keep negotiating into the season.
The large majority of players prefer to restrict any contract talks to the offseason, so as to not have any lingering concerns or distractions impeding their focus once the games begin. Rizzo has himself expressed this same preference, though Kaplan points out that Rizzo’s previous extension with the team (a seven-year, $41MM contract in 2013) wasn’t made official until May 2013. Rizzo expressed some optimism a few weeks ago that the two sides could reach an agreement, and according to Kaplan, “club sources are confident that a deal will eventually get done.”
That seven-year, $41MM commitment has now grown into a nine-year pact, as the Cubs exercised their club options on Rizzo for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, paying the first baseman $16.5MM each year. That initial investment has paid off very handsomely for the team, as Rizzo hit .284/.388/.513 with 179 homers from 2014-19 and became one of the key figures of this championship-winning era of Cubs baseball.
Rizzo turns 32 in August and is coming off a down year (.222/.342/.414 in 243 PA) by his normal standards, though given the unusual nature of the 2020 season, it’s hard to say whether Rizzo is actually experiencing any sort of decline. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see what type of contract Rizzo lands if he and the Cubs do agree to an extension — or, in lieu of an extension, what type of free agent deal Rizzo might receive on the open market if he delivers vintage numbers in 2021.