Anthony Rizzo ‘at peace’ with contract situation ahead of Opening Day
In the middle of spring training, Cubs star Anthony Rizzo said he was “very optimistic” about a possible contract extension.
His press conference Monday morning conveyed a remarkably different tune.
The 3-time All-Star confirmed no contract extension is imminent and he plans to turn his entire focus to the start of the regular season.
“Where we stand and talking a lot with my family and agents, a lot of talks with [my wife] Emily, we’ve given a lot during this process here,” Rizzo said. “With the Opening Day deadline, we feel really strong about it. We’ve had enough time to talk and try to figure it out, but I think once the season starts for me personally, it’s focused on baseball.
“If my mind isn’t 100% on baseball and it’s elsewhere, it’s hard enough to play. Once Thursday comes, I focus on baseball and that’s it. I told my agents really not to talk to me anymore, even from this point on. It was good just to have clarity one way or the other. And now I can get ready for the season.”
Rizzo admitted he doesn’t know what the future is going to hold for him as he gets set to play his 10th season in a Cubs uniform.
He’s grown up a lot over the last decade, emerging as a perennial NL MVP candidate and Gold Glove winner in addition to serving as the face of the franchise. When the Cubs won the World Series and enjoyed a rally in front of a record-setting crowd, Rizzo was one of those who stepped to the microphone to deliver a speech.
He understands there is a business side of this game and believes he can enter the season “at peace” with his current contract status.
Rizzo – who turns 32 in August – believes he’s effectively conveyed to the Cubs how much he wants to continue his career on the North Side of Chicago.
“I think I’ve just expressed how much I love it here and my desire to stay here and to continue building this franchise and winning the next championship here,” Rizzo said. “I feel no different now than I did earlier. Obviously things get in the way of that, but what it entails of being a Chicago Cub is playing at Wrigley Field for half of our games, playing on the road and it feeling like a home game because of the fans and the passion the fans give.
“My desire to stay here has been worn right on my sleeve. Obviously it hasn’t worked out to this point but that’s OK. We have a full season to play and another offseason a year from now. A lot could happen between now and then.”
David Ross has had a front-row seat to Rizzo’s maturation process, first as a teammate, then as a special assistant in the front office and now as a manager. But he also understands the business side of the game doesn’t always play out exactly how people expect it to.
“Baseball is always a business,” Ross said. “There’s two sides – there’s the winning side and there’s a business side. Even in the front office, you have a business side and you have baseball [operations]. I want what’s best for Anthony. I think everybody wants what’s best for Anthony.
“But we also want what’s best for the Cubs and being able to do long-term planning, which those guys have to do up top and also the business side and how that works out. I think everybody loves Anthony Rizzo and respects the numbers he’s put up and the baseball player he is.
“If I was writing the checks, I would pay them all. That’s where my heart goes. I would write checks to all of them as much as they wanted and move on. But there’s budgets, there’s things that are above my paygrade. I try to stay in my lane and do the best I can with the players that are provided.”