Anthony Rizzo leaned back into the center-field ivy for a picture, soaking up his last moments at Wrigley Field before joining the Yankees.
“It was obviously very emotional,” Rizzo said of getting the news of his trade from Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and manager David Ross. “Still a rollercoaster.”
The Cubs headed to the airport after a 7-4 loss to the Reds on Thursday, leaving for a weekend series against the Nationals. But first, Rizzo got to say goodbye to his teammates.
“It wasn’t easy,” Rizzo said. “Just love what we did here. I think in due time I’ll be able to speak more on it. But it’s just unbelievable, the run, and I won’t ever take it for granted.”
He’d had little time to process the news of his trade, mere hours after a decade in Chicago. In that time, he’d helped turn the lovable losers into World Series Champions.
Rizzo was the first of the Cubs championship core stars to go at this year’s the trade deadline. For the first baseman and cash, the Yankees are sending the Cubs two prospects: right-handed pitcher Alexander Vizcaíno and outfielder Kevin Alcántara.
“This city will be ingrained right in my heart for the rest of my life,” Rizzo said.
So, what was going through Rizzo’ mind as he and his family walked across the deserted diamond Thursday evening, the cleanup crew sweeping through the Wrigley Field stands?
“A lot,” Rizzo said. “Some good memories here. … I grew up here. But all good things come to an end. It’s going to be a tough second half here, which a lot of us here (haven’t been) used to in a long time.
“So, to be able to go to another historic franchise like the Yankees is unbelievable. And getting the calls and the texts, how excited they are, how excited I am.”
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The Cubs are in sell mode the day before the trade deadline. In the past couple weeks, they’ve sent out outfielder Joc Pederson, relievers Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera, and now Rizzo, for minor leaguers.
The Yankees, on the other hand, not only added Rizzo on Thursday but also traded for outfielder Joey Gallo. The pair of left-handed bats strengthen an already star-studded but largely right-handed lineup.
“For these next three months, it’s going to be fun,” Rizzo said. “You go right into a race.”
Then, this offseason, Rizzo is set to become a free agent. Asked about Cubs fans already clamoring for his return next year, and whether that might be on his radar, Rizzo said he was focused on his transition to New York.
He pointed to Jon Lester, his “best friend in the game,” who won World Series with both the Red Sox and Cubs, leaving his mark on both franchises.
“Jon Lester did the same thing,” Rizzo said, “has two special places in his heart.”