Will Rizzo be a Financial Sacrifice?

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Already rated as the fourth best first baseman in baseball, the Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo is also the vocal leader of this young core. He has also led the team in homers in four of the last five seasons, finishing with 32, 31, 32, and 32 homers in the last four seasons. Oh, and he happened to win a platinum glove after the 2016 season, proving he isn’t just an offensive player.

What is great is, the Cubs were able to lock Rizzo up for seven years in May of 2013 in a team friendly contract. That deal has two team options in 2020 and 2021 valued at $14.5 million each, meaning, Rizzo will likely remain a Cub until the 2021 season. That has always been very exciting news for Cubs fans. What’s not so exciting is, there’s a chance that he walks after that 2021 season.

“But obviously there is a business side of it. You just never know what’s going to happen. That’s four more years away. That, I can’t control.”

The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan spoke with Rizzo during the Cubs Convention, and one of the topics was the Cubs and what happens at the end of his deal. While it is apparent Anthony loves Chicago and the organization, he seems to understand that he might not return after his deal is up.

“I love playing here,” he said. “This is like home to me. I’m very comfortable here. I love the fans. I love what we have going on and the Ricketts (family). I want to be here as long as I can be. I’d love to play here my whole career.

“But obviously there is a business side of it. You just never know what’s going to happen. That’s four more years away. That, I can’t control.”

Right now, in 2018, the Chicago Cubs are a better team with Anthony Rizzo than without him. What might be difficult for some fans to understand is, it isn’t difficult to find value at first base and Rizzo’s value to cost ratio will likely change a lot.

Of all positions, it is easiest to find production from first base. In 2017, the first baseman hit .274/.356/.495 with 692 home runs (from qualified hitters). Right fielders had the second most homers (585). As far as slashing, the only position that could come close was left fielders where they slashed .278/.344/.477 (the second baseman had a combined average of .283).

While I am not going to be the one that says Rizzo can be replaced (cause I mean, come on) but the production can. That simple fact makes it difficult to break the bank when it comes to a first baseman’s salary. So in four short years the Cubs could opt to save some pennies by allowing Rizzo to walk.

If the team and Rizzo do go their separate ways after the 2021 season, it will likely be due to luxury tax concerns. With the team expectedly preparing to jump over the threshold in the next couple seasons, Rizzo could be seen as an expensive luxury down the road. While it’s hard to imagine the Cubs declining to offer him a deal, a $20 million AAV could actually mean $20 million more in luxury taxes (combined with others).

Eeven saying all of that, I can’t imagine a Cubs team without Rizzo. Fully owning up to my homerness and looking at it through my Cubbie koolaid glasses. I don’t believe Rizzo will have a different uniform on when he’s 32, 33, 34, or 35. He’s a Cub. He’s a dude that gets to choose for himself when he leaves. He should retire a Cub.

Putting my rational cap back on and I know there aren’t many players that spend their entire careers playing for a single franchise. Better and more iconic players have left their franchise for new homes and new challenges. It’s very likely Rizzo will finish his career elsewhere.

Ugh… I feel dirty writing that. Where’s my 2016 Cubs World Series DVD.

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