How confident is team president Jed Hoyer that the Cubs will reach a contract extension with first baseman Anthony Rizzo?
“Very confident,” Hoyer said flatly during a Zoom session with reporters on Wednesday.
Rizzo said earlier this spring he was “very optimistic” he and the Cubs would come to terms on an extension. However, the first baseman told reporters Monday he doesn’t expect to reach a deal by Opening Day.
Rizzo previously set the season opener as a deadline for a new deal and stood by that deadline on Monday, saying he feels “really strong” about it. With no deal reached at this point, he’s told his representatives to halt negotiations so he can focus on the season.
The Cubs first baseman is set to become a free agent this coming offseason.
Hoyer’s relationship with Rizzo extends back to 2007, when he and Theo Epstein drafted him while working in the Red Sox front office. After landing the Padres general manager gig, Hoyer traded for Rizzo in the 2010-11 offseason.
A little over a year later, Hoyer, who joined Epstein in Chicago as the Cubs general manager, acquired Rizzo again.
“I think that along with Jason [McLeod] and Theo, I look at it like I don’t think there's any bigger Anthony Rizzo supporter out there than I am,” Hoyer said. “I want him playing first base for the Cubs for a long time, in 2022 and beyond.
"I've made that really clear to him throughout the process."
Hoyer said he’s expressed to Rizzo the path the Cubs see to reaching a deal. He also emphasized during Wednesday's media session the danger in negotiating publicly, where “one data point” from talks becomes public, noting there are “dozens” of conversations during negotiations.
Hoyer also said he respects Rizzo’s desire to put a deadline on negotiations, "but our door is open."
“We have no reason not to talk in season,” he added, noting there’s months left before this upcoming offseason. “And so I’ll honor that, but I am optimistic that we will end up reaching an agreement.”
Deadline aside, Hoyer said the Cubs want Rizzo to remain a club long term.
“The most important thing is that he knows that we want him back," he said. "And I certainly hope that we're able to work something out."