The Cubs bought out left-hander Jon Lester’s option Friday, but first baseman Anthony Rizzo won’t get the same treatment. The team’s planning to pick up his $16.5MM option for 2021, which will be Rizzo’s last season of team control, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports.
Retaining Rizzo shouldn’t come as a surprise, but as we’ve seen this week, all bets seem to be off in baseball’s current economic climate. And while Rizzo has generally been fantastic since he first became a Cub in 2012, the 31-year-old took sizable steps backward this season. Rizzo put up a pedestrian 103 wRC+, his worst since his debut with the Padres in 2011, and batted .222/.342/.414 with 11 home runs in 243 plate appearances. Moreover, Rizzo’s .339 expected weighted on-base average was his worst since the Statcast era began, and it was a 55-point drop from the .394 mark he logged in 2019.
While Rizzo will return to the Cubs for another season and hope for a rebound, their lineup might look quite a bit different otherwise. After a first-round playoff exit this fall, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein suggested an offensive shakeup is forthcoming. That could put other Cubs mainstays (Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, to name a couple of examples) in jeopardy of sticking with the team in 2021.