The Chicago Cubs are on the verge of reconstructing their roster and the core that has been in place since the 2015 season is about to be torn down. Between now and the Major League Baseball trade deadline on July 30, there is a strong chance that one if not two of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, or Javier Baez will be traded.
For the first time since 2015, the Cubs are in a position where it is clear that they will not be making the post-season and that the best baseball decision would be to retool, if not, rebuild entirely.
That is why the Cubs will likely be the most active seller as team approach the trade deadline. Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez have been popular names brought up in trade rumors but the sell off could also include Craig Kimbrel, Joc Pederson, Zach Davies, and Willson Contreras if the right deal materializes.
When examining the Cubs roster and who should be the first player to be traded, the answer is very clear. Rizzo, without a doubt, is the player that the Cubs should trade first. Rizzo is the symbol for everything that has gone wrong with the Cubs’ contention window.
Before we dive too deep into the rabbit hole of why Rizzo is a failing leader for the Cubs’ organization, let’s first acknowledge his accomplishments. Since the 2015 season, Rizzo has been a perennial 25-home run, 100-RBI player for the Cubs. Throughout the Cubs’ contending years, it was Rizzo’s performance on the field that energized the team. Chicago will forever be grateful for Rizzo and his efforts.
The issue for Rizzo, much like the Cubs’ organization as a whole, is that he has failed to adapt in his role of a leader. Given the current State of the Cubs, the team is in need of a leader that is willing to say the uncomfortable things. That is why Conteras should be applauded for his recent comments regarding the Cubs’ efforts. Rizzo, meanwhile, has been silent in the midst of the Cubs’ struggles this season.
Between Rizzo publicly embracing the idea that he chose not to be vaccinated from COVID-19 or his refusal to speak with the Cubs’ front office regarding his contract status during the season, the Cubs’ first baseman has failed to be a true leader for a team that is in desperate need of a slap in the face. That slap was provided by Contreras while Rizzo was no where to be seen.
This is not the same Rizzo that Cubs’ fans saw at the end of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series when he stuffed the game ball in his back pocket after Bryant made the final out of the game. This Rizzo is afraid to confront the harsh realties facing this organization. As the Cubs begin to deconstruct their current core and build a new core, Rizzo should be the first position player that the Cubs are willing to part with.
Looking beyond his lack of leadership, Rizzo, as a baseball player, is no longer the first base cornerstone that he once was. Rizzo is hitting .247/.342/.429/.771 this season with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. The lack of power can be attributed to the chronic back issues that Rizzo has had this season and those back issues are reason why he has missed 11 games throughout the first half of the season. Rizzo will be 32 in August and chances are that his back issues will continue diminish his power for the rest of his career.
Rizzo’s infectious smile is not going to cure Cubs’ woes this season. Rizzo’s fun walk-up music is not going to cure the fact that he has failed to develop as leader. All good things must to an end, and for Anthony Rizzo, the end of his time with the Chicago Cubs’ organization can not come soon enough.