Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo still optimistic about getting a contract extension done this spring

Rizzo says his deadline will be Opening Day. He’ll be focused on the season after that.

SHARE Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo still optimistic about getting a contract extension done this spring

John Antonoff/Chicago Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Anthony Rizzo isn’t worried about his contract status, and after expressing a desire to work out an extension this spring, he’s still hopeful the sides can get something done before Opening Day.  

Cubs president Jed Hoyer has said he wants to talk to some of the team’s impending free agents about staying in Chicago. Rizzo, Javy Baez and Kris Bryant are set to hit the open market at the end of the season.

“I’m very optimistic,” Rizzo said. “We got a couple more weeks until Opening Day. Everything between now and then is exciting stuff. Either good or bad, whatever happens is exciting and for the future. Once Opening Day comes, this team is going to be focused on just playing baseball.

“I’ve expressed [that I want] to be here, and we’ve had really good conversations top to bottom. Just for me and everything I put into my teammates, they deserve all that I have this year, and I’ll give that to them and our fans, and once April 1 comes, it’s all about baseball. It’s not about money. It’s not about contract extension or future. It’s about April 1 and winning that game and getting the best out of everyone on the team.”

Rizzo’s sentiment about remaining in Chicago for the long haul is shared by the Cubs’ other free agents-to-be. The value of the comfort and environment created the last eight years can’t be emphasized enough. Those perks helped lure left fielder Joc Pederson in free agency and were a reason right-hander Jake Arrieta returned this offseason.

“I think it’s a testament to ownership and the front office and the coaching staff and all the staff that guys want to be here,” Hoyer said last month. “They enjoy the environment. Obviously, we got the ballpark and the fan base and the city, but people want to be here. And that’s a great thing. . . . I think that’s great that they feel that way about this place. And, you know, it’d be disappointing after this much time with these players if they felt otherwise.”

It appeared the Cubs would be heading toward a rebuild after the Yu Darvish trade and the Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora non-tenders, but they made additions late in the offseason, and those moves didn’t go unnoticed by their vocal leader.

Rizzo’s top priority is being in Chicago, but being in a winning environment is just as important for the 31-year-old first baseman.

“[Winning] is big,” Rizzo said. “My goal is bringing the next championship here in Chicago. It’s coming; it’s coming soon. It’s coming to the city, and that’s my focus. We feel really good. It’s March. Everyone feels good, right? But we got to go and build and believe and gain momentum.

“But as far as potentially rebuilding and all that stuff, [people] have been trading guys and blowing up this team for the last three years. So it’s all part of the business, what comes with it. I’m just staying focused on the task at hand.”

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