Cubs’ trade of Anthony Rizzo signals the dawn of a new day as franchise begins new chapter

Rizzo ranks sixth in Cubs history in home runs, 12th in total bases and 20th in hits.

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There was no doubt the Cubs were going to be sellers at the trade deadline, but they didn’t wait till the deadline to make a seismic move, trading franchise cornerstone Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees for two prospects — right-hander Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcantara.

The trade officially closes the chapter on a golden era of Cubs baseball. It’s the dawn of a new day at the corner of Clark and Addison.

When former team president Theo Epstein and current president Jed Hoyer were building their championship core, Rizzo was to be the foundation of the roster they envisioned for years to come.

After acquiring the first baseman from the Padres in 2012, they continued to add, turning an organization devoid of talent into one of the strongest in the sport. The curly haired kid with potential became a three-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner, a Silver Slugger winner and the vocal leader of some of the best teams in franchise history.

Rizzo and third baseman Kris Bryant, whom the team drafted to be the other franchise pillar, quickly turned one of baseball’s worst teams into one of its best.

Together, they were the anchors of a lineup that not only carried the team to sustained success but to the ultimate goal of the organization’s first World Series title in 108 years.

Fast-forward to Thursday, and things are drastically different, and that feeling of inevitability has been hovering for some time. As Hoyer said after the team’s 11-game losing streak and its shift into seller mode weeks ago, “Life comes at you fast,” and if there was a move that echoed those sentiments, it was this one.

The possibility of either of the Cubs’ two superstars being traded would have been considered laughable years ago, but times have changed, and what was once unfathomable has become a reality.

“Change is inevitable in our game at some point,” manager David Ross said. “There’s a lot of pride these guys should have and respect for one another. I know this fan base has appreciated what they’ve done here. So I think that’s something that should be recognized.”

Rizzo didn’t play in what turned out to be his last game wearing Cubbie blue. Unfortunately for him and the fans, there was no warm embrace, no standing ovation. His time in Chicago, like the team’s window, just ended.

The mass exodus from the North Side isn’t over yet as Bryant also could be on his way out the door.

The 2016 National League MVP has been up-front about how he has gotten better at dealing with the dark cloud of rumors and questions about his future. This week, he was honest about what might lie ahead for him.

“Some of the stuff is just exhausting. It really is,” Bryant said Monday. “I’m just trying to do my best to keep my focus where it needs to be and help whoever I can along the way here and just take everything in stride. And whatever happens, it’s out of my control.”

But what will end up being the lasting moment from Thursday was nothing that happened on the field. After the final out of the Cubs’ 7-4 loss, Bryant sat in the dugout alone and was clearly emotional in what was likely his last game in a Cubs uniform.

Those emotions likely are being felt by Cubs fans, players and people in the organization as they realize that a major chapter in the franchise’s history is finished.

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