As well as the Cubs have looked to start this season, is it still possible their championship core could be dismantled this winter?
The guy who’s been around in the Cubs clubhouse longer than anyone, Anthony Rizzo, knows that’s a possibility, maybe even likely.
“I’m not gonna shy away from it — this could be our last year together and I think we all know that, especially with the state of the game and who knows what’s going to happen,” Rizzo said Thursday.
The Cubs have raced off to a 12-3 start, their best since 1907 (13-2). The season is being played during a global pandemic, one that brings uncertainty on a daily basis. A long-term uncertainty also hangs over the Cubs, whose core position players can hit free agency in the next two years.
Rizzo has an option on his contract for 2021. Kris Bryant, Javier Báez and Kyle Schwarber are arbitration-eligible through 2021, and Willson Contreras through 2022.
“This could be our last run with all our core guys,” Rizzo said, reiterating comments he made back in March. “This could be my last year here. Who knows?”
Those comments explain Rizzo’s approach this season: “I’m enjoying every second of it,” he said. He watched intrasquad Summer Camp games from the Wrigley Field bleachers while sidelined with back soreness. On Opening Day, he offered Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia hand sanitizer at first base. “Tony Two Chains” might be his new on-field alter ego.
There’s no telling what the future holds, especially because no one knows for certain how the pandemic will affect baseball’s finances. Right now, Rizzo is appreciative of the Cubs start and wants to enjoy the season as much as he can.
“When times get tough, I’ve obviously been through a tough time before, you start appreciating all the little things again that maybe you take for granted,” he said. “It’s the joy of the game that we’re playing for right now.”