Anthony Rizzo sounds off on ‘bad breakup’ between Cubs and ‘Big 3’: ‘There is a common denominator that no one signed’
CHICAGO — New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo compared the departures of the Chicago Cubs core to a “bad breakup” and disputed the team’s assessment that all were offered fair market extensions.
Speaking Tuesday on “The Kap and J. Hood Show” on WMVP-AM 1000, Rizzo was asked about team President Jed Hoyer’s earlier comments that he can sleep well knowing the Cubs made fair extension offers to their upcoming free agents, namely Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Báez.
“I’m kind of confused on why,” Rizzo said. “Why say that? Sounds like a bad breakup and the person saying they’re fine when they’re not fine.
“Listen, when it comes to the guys on our team and what we did — Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, MVPs, Rookie of the Years, good people — those things cost money. I know it comes down to a business, and when you want your cake and you want to eat it too, that’s kind of how it seemed.”
Rizzo didn’t get into specifics but implied the Cubs wanted hometown discounts on the “Big 3″ instead of market value.
Rizzo, who turns 32 this week, reportedly turned down a five-year, $70 million offer made before his subpar 2021 season, which followed a career-worst year in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season in 2020.
The Athletic reported the offer, which included escalators, at the end of spring training, indicating Rizzo was seeking something more in line with Paul Goldschmidt’s five-year, $130 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
But Rizzo suggested the Cubs’ failure to sign any of them shows the organization was undervaluing the players. He reiterated he wanted to “stay there for life.”
“I think it can speak for itself that there is a common denominator that no one signed,” he said. “Whoever wants to dig into that can. I just think that we had such great memories there, (for Hoyer) to come out and say that, it doesn’t really make sense. But it is what it is.”
Rizzo and Hoyer have a long relationship that dates to the Boston Red Sox days when Rizzo was drafted out of high school. But it’s not as strong as the relationship between Rizzo and former Cubs President Theo Epstein, and it seemingly has been fractured by the failure to reach agreement on an extension.
Rizzo said “there’s no hard feelings on my end” despite his disappointment in Hoyer’s comments. Either way, don’t look for Rizzo to sign with the Cubs when his contract ends this fall. After the Athletic report, Rizzo said he knew “the writing is on the wall” after the sides were so far apart in March.
As for his Wrigley Field finale, Rizzo said he asked manager David Ross for the day off Thursday. Ross was widely criticized for not giving Rizzo or Bryant an at-bat in what turned out to be the final game of their Cubs careers.
When asked about the failure of the Cubs to succeed in October after the 2016 World Series championship, Rizzo surprisingly pointed to the departure of strength coach Tim Buss — not manager Joe Maddon — after the 2019 season.
Buss, best known as ringmaster of the spring training circuses at Cubs camp, followed Maddon to Anaheim and has a similar role with the Los Angeles Angels.
“I think in ‘17 we blew it all out too and gave our best effort,” Rizzo said. “This game is hard. We won a lot of games. They let some guys go — Tim Buss was such a ringleader in that clubhouse for the culture and the atmosphere. Him not being there, you can’t put it on one guy, but the way he is able to lead a group of guys through 162 games …
“I’ll always give him the highest respect of love, his ability to just continue to bring guys together is amazing. It was a little different (without Buss), but at the end of the day I think guys were ready to play and gave it their best.”
Rizzo said he enjoys wearing “the Yankees pinstripes” and lauded the Yankees clubhouse and “playing next to DJ LeMahieu (and) the amount of respect I have for him.”
LeMahieu can relate to his story, having been dealt by Epstein to the Colorado Rockies for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers to kick off the Cubs rebuild in 2011. It was one of Epstein’s worst decisions in nine years as team president.
As for life in general, it’s all good, Rizzo said. He’s taking the advice of Cubs hitting coach Anthony Iapoce: “Just do what you do. Play baseball and have fun.”