Jed Hoyer is ‘very confident’ a contract extension with Anthony Rizzo will happen before the Chicago Cubs first baseman hits free agency

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Meghan Montemurro, Chicago Tribune
·3 min read
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Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer does not want contract negotiations to play out publicly.

But on the eve of first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s opening-day deadline for an extension, Hoyer expressed optimism that something eventually will be worked out. Despite negotiations appearing to have stalled, Hoyer said he is “very confident” a deal will get done with Rizzo.

Hoyer’s confidence stems from mutual interest in Rizzo remaining with the Cubs and that they still have seven months before Rizzo officially is a free agent.

“I don’t think I have to explain my affection for Anthony Rizzo,” Hoyer said Wednesday. "Obviously I want him playing first base for the Cubs for a long time, in 2022 and beyond. And I’ve made that really clear to him throughout the process.

“I respect his desire to put a deadline on it. That’s his decision and one that I respect completely, but our door is open. We have no reason not to talk in-season, so I’ll honor that. But I am optimistic that we will end up reaching an agreement.”

Rizzo discussed earlier this week that is he at peace with his contract situation and reiterated his deadline for a deal with a sole focus on baseball come Thursday, when the Cubs play host to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field in the season opener. It prompted questions to Hoyer on Wednesday following the uncertain future of the face of the Cubs organization. Hoyer wasn’t interested in delving into specifics about negotiations with Rizzo’s camp and seemed only willing to address the situation because Rizzo had spoken publicly about it days earlier.

“I think there’s a real danger when you’re negotiating, one data point from a negotiation comes out and in any negotiation, there’s significant back and forth, there’s dozens and dozens of conversations,” Hoyer said. “And I would just say that I’ve told Anthony over and over that I really want him here for a long time and I’ve made that clear.

“I’ve also articulated the club’s position to him very clearly, and I think he knows where we stand. But the most important thing is that he knows that we want him back, and I certainly hope that we’re able to work something out.”

As for where things stand with the Cubs’ other two impending star free agents, third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Javier Baez, Hoyer said the organization has been in contact with both players’ agents and had dialogue during the course of spring training but “beyond that, I wouldn’t comment.”

“We have a lot of great players that are in contract years, and certainly our hope is that we can have some of those players beyond 2021,” Hoyer said.

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