CHICAGO — In what could be a farewell season, the Chicago Cubs picked up the $16.5 million option on three-time All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo for 2021.
The decision gives the Cubs some stability as more difficult decisions await them in what figures to be a challenging offseason. Rizzo, 31, is entering the final season of a multi-year contract he signed in 2013, but is aware the core group that has led the franchise to five playoff appearances in six seasons could break up.
On Friday, the Cubs declined the $25 million option on left-handed pitcher Jon Lester.
With COVID-19 inflicting significant revenue losses and about 100 layoffs in the baseball and business departments, the Cubs face the juggling act of remaining a playoff contender while adding more young players and defining the futures of shortstop Javier Baez, third baseman Kris Bryant and left fielder Kyle Schwarber — all who can be free agents after the 2021 season.
In addition, catcher Willson Contreras is two years away from free agency.
With Rizzo under control, the Cubs have committed about $93 million to six players for 2021 — not including Baez, Bryant, Schwarber and Contreras.
Rizzo, the Cubs’ most consistent left-handed hitter, batted only .222 with 11 home runs, 24 RBIs and a .755 OPS — his lowest since 2012 — in 58 games. But over the last eight seasons with the Cubs, Rizzo has 228 home runs, 744 RBIs and an .866 OPS.
As expected, infielder Daniel Descalso received a $1 million buyout. Descalso missed all of 2020 because of an ankle injury suffered in the final exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins.
In other news, Cubs ace Yu Darvish will learn Monday night whether he is one of three finalists for the National League Cy Young Award. Darvish, 34, was 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 76 innings.
The winner be announced Nov. 11.
The Gold Glove Awards will be announced Tuesday night, with Rizzo, Baez, Contreras, second baseman Nico Hoerner, right fielder Jason Heyward and pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills finalists at their respective positions.
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