The Chicago Cubs ended their season earlier than they expected. After being bounced in the Wild Card Series against the Miami Marlins, the Cubs will now turn to free agency. However, the Cubs first have to make free-agent decisions regarding their own team.
Here is a look at the club options for the 2021 Chicago Cubs.
After the 2020 season, the Cubs could let their star first baseman walk. However, that is unlikely.
Although Rizzo had a down year this season, he will stay in Chicago for at least another year.
Rizzo has had a club option for the past two seasons. This will mark his second $16.5 million contract in back-to-back seasons if the Cubs decide to pick it up.
Rizzo has been the heart and soul of this Cubs team since his first breakout season in 2014. In his nine-year Cubs career, Rizzo has been every bit of sensational.
He has three All-Star appearances, two top-five MVP finishes, three gold glove awards, one silver slugger award and of course brought Chicago its first World Series title in over 100 years.
Most of Rizzo’s success came from 2014-2016 where he accounted for the majority of his awards.
His past three years, however, haven’t nearly been as solid. The only awards he has won from 2018-2020 were two gold gloves.
Coming off a mediocre year for Rizzo, only batting .222 (his lowest since his rookie season on the Padres), he is set for a bounce-back year in 2021.
Even though Rizzo had a down year, the Cubs will not give up on him. Therefore, the Cubs will most definitely pick up his 2020 club option, qualifying him to make another $16.5 million in 2021.
This situation is a doozy one for the Cubs. Jon Lester has been a part of the club since 2015. However, his time in Chicago might be over.
“I didn’t really get to walk off the field like I wanted to at Fenway Park and obviously tonight, didn’t quite go the way I wanted to have an empty stadium,” said Lester. “Not really how I envisioned possibly my last start here.”
Lester is set to make $25 million in 2021 if the Cubs decide to pick up his contract. That would make him the 10th highest paid starting pitcher in major league baseball. He would be getting more money than his teammates, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. He would also earn more money than Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who are some of the games best.
Lester hasn’t put up productive numbers in Chicago since 2018 where he went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA.
In the past two seasons combined, he is 16-13 with a 4.81 ERA and 67 walks including 3-3 with a 5.16 ERA and a -0.3 WAR in 2020.
In his six-year career in Chicago, Lester has had two All-Star appearances, two top 10 Cy Young finishes (finished second in 2016) and helped the Cubs win their first title in over 100 years.
Lester’s time in the majors might be coming to an end as well. He will be 37 years old at the start of the season and coming off an inadequate season.
If the Cubs do decide to move on from Lester and allow him to be an unrestricted free agent, they will need to pay him a $10 million buyout.
Nonetheless, even if the Cubs do let Lester walk, they might try to sign him back for a cheaper price in free agency.
This is an interesting situation for the Cubs. Descalso, who mostly plays second base, didn’t play at all in the 2020 season.
After a foul ball bounced off of Descalso’s ankle at the beginning of the season, the Cubs shut him down for the season with an ankle sprain.
However, the Cubs didn’t miss anything special with his absence in 2020. Through his 10 year career, Descalso has been average at best.
Last season with the Cubs, he batted a whopping .173 with two home runs and 15 RBI.
If the Chicago Cubs decide to pick up his contract, he would be set to make $3.5 million in 2021. That would make him the 13th highest-paid second baseman in the league.
He would make more money in 2021 than his teammate David Bote, who has come up with big hits in the clutch. He would also make more money than Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies and Tampa Bay’s breakout player, Brandon Lowe.
To pay Descalso $3.5 million to sit on the bench would be a waste for the Cubs. As a result, Chicago might be better off letting him walk.
If they do decide to let him become an unrestricted free agent, the Cubs would need to pay him a $1 million buyout.
Featured Image Courtesy of ClutchPoints