MLBTR Poll: Predicting Anthony Rizzo’s Contract

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Anthony Rizzo is one of the higher-profile remaining unsigned free agents. The 32-year-old is a three-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner. Rizzo also claimed a Silver Slugger award during a 2016 season where he was a key member of the Cubs’ World Series winning squad, and he appeared on MVP balloting every year during his 2014-19 peak.

Yet Rizzo’s numbers have slipped from that middle-off-the-order form over the past two seasons. Since the start of 2020, he’s a .240/.343/.432 hitter. That offensive output is nine percentage points above the overall league average, by measure of wRC+, but it’s a bit below the leaguewide .254/.335/.455 line compiled by first basemen.

Coupled with his age (32), that recent dip in production at the plate makes Rizzo a particularly challenging free agent to value. Teams could view his downturn as a sign that his days as an impact bat are now behind him. Yet he still brings an enviable combination of bat-to-ball skills, impressive exit velocities and well-regarded defense. That’s before considering the intangible value teams might attribute to Rizzo, who was generally viewed as a key clubhouse leader on the Cubs’ playoff rosters.

Rizzo’s two most recent teams — the Cubs and Yankees — have each been mentioned as possible post-lockout suitors for a reunion. The Braves have considered him as a possible alternative if Freddie Freeman signs elsewhere. There haven’t been any other teams with substantive ties to the lefty hitter this offseason, but clubs like the Brewers, Guardians and Marlins could be speculative fits for a first base addition.

The free agent and trade markets for first basemen didn’t move much before the lockout. In addition to the unsigned Freeman and Rizzo, top trade possibilities like Matt Olson and Luke Voit could find themselves on the move. That supply of potentially available star first basemen complicates the situation further, particularly given the rapid transactions frenzy that’s expected to take place once the lockout wraps up.

There haven’t been any firm reports about what kind of deal Rizzo might be targeting this winter. He rejected a five-year, $70MM extension offer from the Cubs during Spring Training. Yet topping that number now — even with the prospect of all 30 teams pursuing him — seems unlikely given his fine but unspectacular 2021 performance. At the start of the winter, MLBTR projected Rizzo to receive a three-year, $45MM guarantee.

What does the MLBTR readership think? For how much will Rizzo sign after the transactions freeze?

(poll links for app users)

 

 

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