Regardless of how extension negotiations play out, Anthony Rizzo will have ‘zero regrets’
MESA, Ariz. — Less than three weeks remain until the start of the 2021 MLB regular season.
That’s both an endpoint for all the players getting ready in spring training but it’s also essentially an endpoint for extension talks between the Cubs and Anthony Rizzo.
“Once April 1 comes, it’s all about baseball,” he said. “It’s not about money. It’s not about a contract extension or future. It’s about April 1 and winning that game and getting the best out of everyone on the team.”
The veteran first baseman is signed through the 2021 season and has maintained he is open to an extension with the Cubs.
While that deadline continues to creep closer, Rizzo feels good about his current position.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “We got a couple more weeks ’til Opening Day and everything between now and then is exciting stuff. Either good or bad, whatever happens is exciting for the future. Once Opening Day comes, this team, we’re gonna be focused on just winning baseball games.”
He classified the conversations with the Cubs as “great” and “positive.”
Rizzo also reiterated that no matter how these extension negotiations end up this spring, he’s going to give everything he has on the field in 2021 in an effort to bring the Cubs back to the place they were five years ago.
“My goal is bringing the next championship here in Chicago,” Rizzo said. “It’s coming. It’s coming soon. It’s coming to this city. That’s my focus — how are we gonna win again?”
Rizzo, 31, is the longest tenured Cub after joining the organization in 2012. He’s suited up in the blue and white for more than 1,300 games including the playoffs.
He is the face of the franchise, a 3-time All-Star and 4-time Gold Glove winner who has the ideal approach at the plate. In spring training last year, the Cubs players went around and discussed whose offensive plan they like the most and Rizzo was the overwhelming answer for his two-strike, patient approach.
However, he wasn’t quite sure how to approach this camp in what may be his final spring with the Cubs.
“I wasn’t really sure how I’d feel when I got to camp with all the talks and this and that, but when you’re out there on that field, it’s baseball,” Rizzo said. “Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been happier. It’s like, I’m here, playing. Everything is set aside and it’s baseball season and that’s the best part.
“We’ve been wanting to play 162, which it’s been a full year since that. Getting back to having fans, talking to [media] in person, things are getting back to normal.”
Rizzo may be facing an uncertain future, but one thing is certain – he will never take Wrigley Field for granted.
During the ramp-up to the shortened season last summer, Rizzo spent a scrimmage wandering around an empty Wrigley Field, testing out the view from different spots. It became a game of “Where’s Rizzo?”
So his approach doesn’t change entering what may be his final year playing home games at the baseball mecca.
“Every time we play there — especially this year with the fans coming back and hopefully we continue to open up and safely get more fans in — but it’s fun,” Rizzo said. “The passion that the Cubs fans bring everyday is something you can never take for granted. I never do.
“All the thinking about the future and all that — what I do know is I’ll have zero regrets, no matter what happens.”