The Cubs have agreed to a seven-year, $41 million contract extension with first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The deal runs from 2013-19, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rizzo, 23 years old, has been his club’s most reliable hitter, entering this afternoon’s game against the Nationals with a .288/.361/.554 line, including nine home runs.
Rizzo was a sixth-round pick by the Red Sox in the 2007 draft. He went to the Padres in the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. The Padres sent him to the Cubs to acquire Andrew Cashner.
Rosenthal provides more details on the contract:
The deal also includes two club options and escalators that could extend the deal to 2021 and bring the total value of the package to $73 million, sources said.
Rizzo, who has just over a year of major-league service, is earning $498,000 season. His new deal will include an immediate increase for 2013 while covering all four of his arbitration years – Rizzo was on track for Super Two status – and his first free-agent year.
The deal provides the Cubs cost certainty with an up-and-coming first baseman. Rizzo would not have been arbitration eligible until after the 2015 season and he would not have been eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season, as Charlie Wilmoth of MLB Trade Rumors notes.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.