Cubs

Watch: Rizzo grows the leadoff legend with another homer, as it's clear that 'Anthony loves batting leadoff!'

Watch: Rizzo grows the leadoff legend with another homer, as it's clear that 'Anthony loves batting leadoff!'

The leadoff legend continues.

Anthony Rizzo's unconventional spot atop the Cubs' batting order Tuesday produced some exciting immediate returns for Joe Maddon & Co. The power-hitting first baseman hit a leadoff homer, took a bases-loaded walk and doubled home a run in his first three plate appearances as the team's leadoff man, kickstarting an offensive explosion in the 14-3.

He couldn't possibly top that, could he?

Well, he did.

Back in the leadoff spot for Wednesday night's game against the New York Mets, Rizzo smoked the first pitch he saw from Matt Harvey for a solo homer, his second leadoff home run in as many days.

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It's the first time a Cubs player did that since 2010, when Tyler Colvin of all people smacked leadoff shots in consecutive contests.

Take a look at Rizzo's homer:

So, forget the debate. It seems the Cubs have their leadoff man.

Even if Maddon tried to bump Rizzo back down in the batting order, he might not be able to. As Rizzo himself shouted after the homer: "Anthony loves batting leadoff!"

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos reportedly agrees to deal with Reds

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos reportedly agrees to deal with Reds

Yesterday, it was reported that the Reds were the favorite to ink Cubs free agent right fielder Nick Castellanos. On Monday, it appears those two sides have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal, per The Athletic's C. Trent Rosencrans and Ken Rosenthal: 

Given the Cubs' desire to steer clear of the luxury tax in 2020, the odds of a reunion with Castellanos were always low. The club's recent signing of outfielder Steven Souza only furthered that belief.

To lose him to a divison rival, though, undoubtedly stings, especially considering the gumption with which the Reds have approached the offseason. Cincinnati has also notably added Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama and Wade Miley this winter.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the deal is for $64 million over four years and added that the deal includes at least one opt-out.

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Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

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USA TODAY

Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

The odds of a Cubs-Nick Castellanos reunion happening have seemed slim all offseason. Although they've been connected to him at various points this winter, bringing back the fan favorite right fielder would require some serious financial gymnastics for the North Siders.

With the Cubs cognizant of the luxury tax, the division rival Reds have emerged as the favorite to sign Castellanos, according to MLB insider Jon Morosi.

The Reds have emerged as the frontrunner to sign free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, one source said Sunday, and there are indications the sides have made progress over the past several days. While Cincinnati is now the favorite to sign Castellanos, the Giants also have negotiated with the 27-year-old in recent weeks.

Because of their desire to stay under the luxury tax in 2020, the Cubs have only made low-cost acquisitions this winter. They were penalized $7.6 million for eclipsing the threshold in 2019; if they do so in 2020, they'll be taxed 30 percent on their overages —  and see their 2021 draft pick drop 10 spots, if they go over the figure by $40 million.

At this point, the only realistic scenario where the Cubs re-sign Castellanos is if they shed salary. However, they've reportedly signed outfielder Steven Souza to a one-year deal, giving them five outfielders (along with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward). That might be the biggest indicator of a reunion not being in the cards.

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