It’s practically baseball season.
It’s already hardball season.
On the last day of Cubs camp in Mesa, Arizona, first baseman Anthony Rizzo said Monday in a video conference with reporters that enough was enough — no more extension talks involving him once Opening Day arrives Thursday against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.
No, he doesn’t expect to reach a new deal with the Cubs before then.
“Obviously, there’s been talks and whatnot,” Rizzo said, “but it doesn’t look like, really, at this time, anything is going to be finalized.”
No, he isn’t trying to bend over backward and make another team-friendly deal. Entering his 10th season with the Cubs, Rizzo, 31, completed a seven-year, $41 million contract in 2019 before playing two option years at $14.5 million each (the second one prorated due to the shortened season). Along with fellow core players Kris Bryant and Javy Baez, he’s on course to become a free agent in the fall.
“We feel we’ve given a lot during this process here,” Rizzo said. “I think with the Opening Day deadline, we feel really strong about it. We’ve had enough time to talk and try to figure it out. Once the season starts, for me, personally, it’s [time to] focus on baseball. If my mind isn’t 100% on baseball and it’s elsewhere? It’s hard enough to play.”
No, he isn’t assuming he’ll be back with the Cubs in 2022, let alone for years after that. Given ownership’s recent track record of reaching deep into its pockets and pretending to find only lint — at least when it comes to paying players — why would he assume such a thing?
Is there really any evidence suggesting the Cubs would give Rizzo the Paul Goldschmidt treatment — five years, $130 million from the Cardinals at age 31 — or even something within sniffing distance of that neighborhood?
This could be the final go-round on the North Side for a three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and longtime team leader who has been the most consistently productive Cubs hitter of his time, averaging right around 30 homers and 100 RBI in the last six full seasons.
“I can’t tell you what the future holds,” Rizzo said. “This will be a special year. Every year is special to me. …
“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. It has been an amazing ride. I don’t think it’s over yet, but it’s just part of the business. And you need to separate it, because every good business person will tell you there are no friendships in business.”
Friendships clearly don’t mean a thing here. Rizzo has a great friend in manager David Ross, who said Monday that if he were writing the checks, he’d pay Rizzo, Bryant and Baez “whatever they want and move on.” If that statement had a dollar value on it, it might cover the cost of a pretzel and beer.
Rizzo — slashing .293/.408/.969 this spring — is done explaining and defending his position. The ball is in president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer’s court. If Hoyer wants to bring him a sweet offer once the games have started, sure, he’ll lend an ear.
Rizzo still hopes to stay, after all.
“I love Chicago,” he said. “I love the fans. I love what Wrigley Field and being a Chicago Cub is all about. But, obviously, it didn’t work out thus far, and that’s OK. I’m at peace with it. I’ve done everything I can.”