Early thoughts on the Rizzo deal: fair for both sides

Early thoughts on the Rizzo deal: fair for both sides

Posted by Bruce on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 14:29

The big news of the day is the Cubs making official the signing of first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a contract guaranteed for seven years and $41 million. It could grow to nine years and $68 million if the Cubs exercise two option years. We’ll have more on this in our “take” for the Tuesday newspaper, and we’ll update the blog here after this afternoon’s news conference with Rizzo and GM Jed Hoyer.

Rizzo, who turns 24 on Aug. 8, will have this deal take him through two pre-arbitration years, four arbitration years and at least one, and perhaps two more, seasons of free agency.

He gets a $2 million signing bonus and a $750,000 salary for this year. He gets $1.25 million next year and $5 million each in 2015 and 2016. Rizzo will earn $7 million in each of 2017 and 2018 and $11 million in 2019. The Cubs have team options for $14.5 million in 2020 and 2021, and there is a $2 million buyout if an option is not exercised.

The Cubs consider Rizzo to be one of their “core” players, along with shortstops Starlin Castro and Javier Baez and outfielder Jorge Soler. Last season, the Cubs gave Castro an extension worth seven years and $60 million. They also signed Soler last summer to a nine-year, $30 million major-league deal.

For Rizzo, he gets long-term security while the Cubs get protection against salary escalation during the arb years. There is some element of gamble for both sides. With monster years, Rizzo could have cashed in big on arbitration. If Rizzo falls victim to injury or does not continue progressing, the Cubs are stuck with a multiyear deal.

But from this distance, it looks to be a fair deal for both sides. Rizzo enters tonight’s game against the Rockies at Wrigley Field with a hitting line of .280/.352/.538 with a team-leading 9 home runs and 28 RBI, which also lead the Cubs. He has walked 13 times and has 34 strikeouts in 143 at-bats.

Since being recalled by the Cubs from Class AAA Iowa last June 26, Rizzo has batted .283 (136-for-480) with 25 doubles, 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 124 games, numbers that are equivalent to 33 doubles, 31 home runs and 99 RBI when projected over the course of 162 games. Rizzo has posted a .345 on-base percentage and a .485 slugging percentage, good for an .830 OPS with the Cubs.

The deal covers all of Rizzo’s playing time through the rest of his 20s.

On fangraphs.com, Dave Cameron called the deal a “steal” for the Cubs:


“But, more than most, this deal looks pretty great for the Cubs,” Cameron writes. “Rizzo is exactly the kind of player who would have made a mountain of money by going year-to-year, as super-two eligibility would have gotten him large arbitration paydays and he has the skillset that is paid the most in free agency. Had Rizzo not signed this deal, he may very well have been pushing for $30 million per year in a long term deal as a free agent after the 2018 season. Instead, the Cubs will now own his first three free agent years for a $13 million AAV. By 2019-2021, $13 million will probably be a below average salary, and Rizzo is on a path to be a star at that point in his career.

“There’s very little downside here for the Cubs. Rizzo basically just has to stay healthy and not regress over the next few years, and at the minimum, the Cubs will save some money in arbitration. If he turns into the franchise first baseman that he looks like right now, the Cubs will be huge winners in the final three years of this deal, potentially saving $50+ million in just those last three years.”

We’ll have more as we go.


Class AAA Iowa fell 9-8 to Reno on Sunday, as Reno scored 3 in the bottom of the ninth. Lefty Chris Rusin worked 5 innings for the I-Cubs, giving up 9 hits and 5 runs while walking none and striking out one. Brad Nelson hit his sixth homer, going 2-for-4. Brett Jackson was 3-for-4 with a walk and a double. Pinch hitter Ian Stewart had a triple, driving in 2. Old friend Casey Coleman worked 2 innings of scoreless relief. He’s holding right-handed hitters to a .143 average.

Class AA Tennessee shut out Jackson 5-0. Kyle Hendricks got the win, working 6.2 innings and giving up 4 hits. He walked one and struck out four to go to 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA. Matt Szczur was 3-for-5 and now has four straight multihit games. Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-4, and Christian Villanueva extended a hit streak to five games.

Class A Daytona had the day off, but the Kane County Cougars (A) fell in the 10th inning to Clinton 7-6. Dillon Maples started and worked 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs while walking none and striking out two. The Cougars got homers from Jeimer Candelario (4) and Rock Shoulers (8). For Shoulders, it was a sixth-inning grand slam.

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