Interleague games in AL ballparks gave the Cubs a short-term opportunity to call up first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and play him without having to bench anyone, but they passed on the chance and so Rizzo continues to be a nightmare for Triple-A pitchers.
He homered twice Sunday and two more times Monday, and Rizzo is now hitting .370 with 22 homers, 16 doubles, and a .753 slugging percentage in 59 games for a 1.183 OPS that leads all of minor-league baseball.
Toss in the damage he did as a minor leaguer while in the Padres’ farm system last season and Rizzo has the following career numbers at Triple-A: .345 batting average with 48 homers, 50 doubles, 158 RBIs, and a 1.093 OPS in 152 games.
Based on merit alone he’d presumably already be in Chicago, but because finding a spot for him in the lineup would require shifting Bryan LaHair to the outfield and/or lessening the role of a suddenly hot-hitting Alfonso Soriano the 22-year-old Rizzo is left to do his Babe Ruth impression in Iowa against a bunch of pitchers with no shot to get him out.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.