PHOENIX – Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been through selloffs before.
“Most of these guys haven’t,” he said. “… It sucks, especially when it’s your good friends. It breaks your heart, but I think in this case we can still continue to play and have good pieces here to keep competing.”
Remember, before the rest of the Cubs’ core joined Rizzo to pry open their championship window, the first baseman spent 2011 with the Padres and joined the Cubs in the early days of the Theo Epstein era. Now the Cubs, though not entering a complete teardown, are trade-deadline sellers for the first time in years.
Exhibit A: On Thursday, the sub- .500 Cubs traded veteran outfielder Joc Pederson to the Braves for a first base prospect. Trade talks continue, and what exactly the July 30 deadline means for Cubs core players in walk years remains to be seen.
Asked last week if he’d sit down with players like Rizzo, Javy Báez and Kris Bryant, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said: “We’ve known these guys since high school, or since college -- we've known these guys a long time and have personal relationships. I think you can assume that that’ll happen.”
Rizzo said he has not yet had those conversations with Hoyer.
“I’m sure that’ll happen in due (time),” Rizzo said. “I’m sure they have a lot on their plate right now, as do we, playing every day.”
Back in spring training, the Cubs opened extension talks with Rizzo. But the three-time All-Star shut them down when the two sides remained far apart leading up to the Opening Day.
"I'm here in Chicago and I love it here, as I've expressed always, but I just don't see any reason for us to listen,” Rizzo said then. "Obviously, if they call, we're not going to be selfish and stubborn. But my mindset is just, ‘play baseball.’"
Catcher Willson Contreras, who is set to become a free agent after the 2022 season, has already been upfront about how the Cubs’ direction forward could color extension talks.
“I love to win,” he told NBC Sports Chicago in late May. “I would love to get to the playoffs a few more times and get to the World Series at least two or three more times in my career. So that’s a deep evaluation that I’d have to do, that (we’d) have to talk about.”
Could the Cubs’ direction at the trade deadline change Rizzo’s calculous on an extension?
“With all that, I’ve said my piece on how I feel and how I love the city,” he said. “We’ve gone back and forth, but I just think that focusing on today right now is best for me, and I have no idea what’s going to happen 14 days from now. I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow. Just like Joc getting traded yesterday. So, during this period it’s definitely like, ‘Today, what do I have to do?’ Play baseball, just really simplify it and not worry about it.”
He has prior experience to draw on there.