Anthony Rizzo: No regrets over team-friendly Cubs deal amid mega-extension trend
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MESA, Ariz. — Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo did some quick math when he saw reports of the six-year, $43 million contract outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez agreed to with the White Sox.
‘‘He got a better deal than me without playing in the big leagues,’’ said Rizzo, whose contract extension with the Cubs six years ago in his first full season in the majors was very similar (seven years, $41 million). ‘‘That’s amazing.’’
Less than two hours after the words came out of Rizzo’s mouth, news broke of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt’s five-year, $130 million extension with the Cardinals, one of eight nine-figure contract agreements in the
majors in the last month — five in the last week.
Third baseman Alex Bregman got a five-year, $100 million extension with the Astros. Third baseman Nolan Arenado got eight years and $260 million from the Rockies. Outfielder Mike Trout’s deal with the Angels was more than those two combined.
Hell, outfielder Mookie Betts reportedly turned down a $200 million extension offer from the Red Sox last year.
It’s almost enough to make Rizzo, a three-time All-Star, wonder what his life — and portfolio — might look like if he had waited before signing what turned into one of the more team-friendly deals in baseball.
‘‘It definitely pops up [in your head], but it’s in and out quick,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘Because at the end of the day, you’re set.
‘‘I might not be flying private jets every time I fly. I might have to take just a first-class seat. But the next [contract], it will be the luxury life every time.’’
Rizzo will make $12 million this season in the final guaranteed year of his contract, thanks in part to a $1 million escalator clause for two top-five MVP finishes. The Cubs have team options for each of the next two seasons.
The deal was signed within months of Starlin Castro signing a long-term extension with the Cubs. Both deals were completed in the first 19 months of Theo Epstein taking over baseball operations. Six years later, the only other multiyear extension the front office has been able to get done was a modest, two-year deal (plus an option year) with reliever Pedro Strop.
Rizzo said he wants to finish his career with the Cubs. But what an extension might look like — or even when — is anything but certain.
What’s clear to him is that he has no regrets about signing a contract that became a below-market deal as soon as he made his first All-Star team in 2014, even as the game is awash in mind-numbing extensions.
‘‘I had financial security early,’’ Rizzo, 29, said. ‘‘And I know the best is yet to come. I see all these mega-signings. Maybe the length won’t be the 15-year or 13-year or 12-year deal, but the time will come where it all works out.’’
Rizzo, who shared a spring-training clubhouse with Jimenez before the Cubs traded him to the Sox in the deal for left-hander Jose Quintana in 2017, suggested Jimenez’s new deal will be good for him, even if it turns out to be a steal for the Sox.
‘‘That’s a good feeling as a player, knowing that you don’t have to be looking [over] your back, that you have the security,’’ he said.
The deal already assures Jimenez no longer has to endure service-time manipulation to secure an additional year of club control, so he can open the season in the big leagues.
‘‘It’s give-and-take,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘You don’t play Monday morning quarterback. I’m very happy with when I signed it and how I played.’’
Rizzo has an .864 OPS, two Gold Gloves and a World Series ring with the Cubs, almost all of that since signing his deal.
‘‘I wanted to outperform my contract,’’ he said. ‘‘That was my goal — to be better than what my contract stated I was. And I think I’ve done that thus far and want to continue to do that.’’