Headed toward what could be an offseason shakeup, the Chicago Cubs have picked up their 2021 option on Anthony Rizzo.
It seemed like a formality, and multiple reports pointed to it, but now it’s official. On Saturday the Chicago Cubs announced they have picked up their $16.5 million club option for 2021 on first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo had a down 2020 campaign, with a .222/.342/.414 slash-line, 11 and 24 RBI over 243 plate appearances. His matching 103 wRC+ and 103 OPS+ were his lowest marks in those categories since his 49-game 2011 debut with the San Diego Padres, with weighted and expected on-base marks that were substantial drop-offs from 2019. He is on the list of Cubs’ hitters who will be looking to rebound in 2021.
Anthony Rizzo returns but there will be big changes to the Cubs
With Jon Lester bought out and not guaranteed to return, and some prominent lineup pieces (Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber) possibly on the trade block, Rizzo may be part of a Cubs team that looks even less like the one that won the World Series in 2016 next year.
Rizzo saw both ends of the Cubs’ rebuild, a 101-loss season in 2012 (and a 96-loss season in 2013) to the 103-win season in 2016. From 2013-2019, he averaged 29 home runs and 96 RBI a season over 153 games per campaign. It’s easy to chalk up this past season’s struggles to a short-season and a short re-ramp up after a lengthy layoff, and Rizzo was hardly the only one around baseball who didn’t perform up to their past standards.
It’s mutually beneficial for the Cubs to pick up Rizzo’s option for next year. In what promises to be a rough free agent market as teams try to manage payroll, Rizzo probably wouldn’t have gotten $16.5 million on a one-year deal and that rate on a multi-year deal wasn’t happening either. The Cubs will keep a needed beacon of stability, and Rizzo gets a chance to head into free agency off a better season in 2021.