Anthony Rizzo Not Expecting Deal Before Opening Day, Has Told Agents to Cease Extension Talks With Cubs

Following reports that the two sides were far apart on their respective figures, Anthony Rizzo told reporters Monday that he has instructed his agents to stop extension talks with the Cubs. If this is anything more than 11th-hour posturing in an effort to hasten the process, it’s a damning indictment of the organization and its failure to get something done ahead of the Opening Day deadline.

Rizzo has said from the start that he did not want negotiations to drag into the regular season and, while his previous extension was actually announced in May of 2013, he doubled down on his deadline Monday. This appears to confirm the reports that the Cubs were not willing to push into nine-figure territory and that the gap is too large to overcome in the next few days.

The first baseman said he’s at peace with whatever happens and said he’s keeping his focus on the season at hand, but he also acknowledged the possibility of playing elsewhere.

“It’s not something I really think of right now,” Rizzo said. “The only thing that really pops in my mind is, one of my biggest mentors and one of my best friends is Jon Lester, who’s had legacies at two different historic franchises.”

Again, that could just be a matter of gamesmanship and trying to call the Cubs back to the table, particularly since he referenced Lester. We could even add in the layer that both Lester and Rizzo were part of the Red Sox organization, though Rizzo never developed a legacy either there or in San Diego. However, Lester has said that being traded to Oakland opened his eyes to the possibility of playing elsewhere and this situation could do more of the same for Rizzo.

That’s not just about Rizzo himself, as neither Javy Báez nor Kris Bryant is close to extensions despite multiple expressions of a mutual desire to work something out.

“I’ve just been open with how I would love to stay here and my desire to stay here and continue to play for the Chicago Cubs,” Rizzo told reporters. “It’s been an amazing ride. I don’t think it’s over yet, but it’s just part of the business.”

Allowing Rizzo to walk after this season, particularly if it’s as the result of a lowball extension offer, would be an egregious mistake on the Cubs’ part. His value to the organization is far greater than just his production on the field, so spare me any talk about his age or his stiff back. Factor in how significantly he’s been underpaid on what was originally a five-year, $41 million deal signed in 2013, even with the Cubs exercising his $16.5 million options the last two years, and it’s been an incredible bargain.

After almost intentionally exhausting nearly all of the goodwill from their World Series win, essentially casting the captain aside would be an unforgivable misstep. Imagine a team that claims it generates 70% of its revenue from fans on gameday potentially damming that stream by actively failing to bring back a fan favorite. Wait, no, you really don’t have to imagine it at all.

Update: According to Patrick Mooney and Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs’ offer was for five years and $70 million. It was “front-loaded and included escalators that would have enabled Rizzo to earn more on the back end,” but the base is barely more than half of Goldschmidt’s extension.

Folks, $60 million less in total value and $12 million Iess in AAV is just not going to play.

While the total value is also significantly less than the Cubs ever presented to Scott Boras as a theoretical starting point, the structure described above is similar. David Kaplan has maintained that Bryant turned down a huge deal (he never did so directly), but Kap told The Rant Live last summer that any proposal would have been incentive-laden and was not for $200 million guaranteed as many have now grown to believe.

Nor did any Bryant offer include a no-trade clause, something Rizzo would likely seek as well. Not that it matters at such a low total value. Even as a starting point, $70 million is insultingly low and doesn’t seem like it constitutes a legitimate offer. If that’s all the Cubs are comfortable doing, fans may need to buckle those seatbelts for a future without Rizzo.

Update #2: The $70 million offer sounds bad enough on its own, but an argument could be made that it’s merely a jumping-off point. After all, that’s how these things work, right? Except it wasn’t the first offer. According to Bleacher Nation’s Michael Cerami, the initial offer was for only $60 million over four years ($15M AAV).

The Cubs have been very bad at the PR game over the last several years, but it’s hard to imagine them continuing to hose this up so badly.

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