Cubs’ Jed Hoyer says Anthony Rizzo signing ‘pretty unusual’
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org May 13, 2013 10:06PM
ROCKIES AT CUBS
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The starters: Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90) vs. Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02).
Updated: May 14, 2013 10:35PM
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday it was ‘‘pretty unusual’’ to negotiate a long-term contract with a player with less than a year of major-league service time.
But he said the long relationship between the Cubs’ hierarchy and Anthony Rizzo, dating to his teen years, was a special circumstance. Team president Theo Epstein drafted Rizzo with the Boston Red Sox in 2007. Hoyer, who was on Epstein’s staff that year, has traded for Rizzo twice, previously when Hoyer was the San Diego Padres’ GM.
‘‘We were in a good position to make that investment,’’ Hoyer said of the seven-year, $41 million deal that could extend to 2021 with two club options.
The deal covers Rizzo’s two pre-arbitration years, his four arbitration years and his first year of free agency.
The Cubs get cost certainty in the deal and another building block in the foundation Hoyer and Epstein want to build, Hoyer said.
Rizzo, 23, gets security and a likely future as a team icon.
The deal was discussed in spring training, but talks ended when Rizzo and agent Marc Pollack believed the dollars weren’t adequate. Negotiations resumed several weeks ago and were completed last week, Hoyer said.
‘‘I knew for a while this was being done, and the last couple days have been so nice to play baseball again,’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘I feel like I’m in Little League again. It’s all about winning now — there’s nothing else in the way. It’s the team and nothing else.’’
For Rizzo, whose story includes surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma five years ago, the future also means growing his Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.
‘‘I like to go to children’s hospitals and see them every so often,’’ he said. ‘‘Whatever I can do to help out.
‘‘We’re big role models in this city — this country, this world. We put on one of the best uniforms in all of sports. It’s an honor to put on that uniform, and it’s a responsibility at the same time.
‘‘You have to carry yourself on the field and off the field like an ultimate pro.’’
Matt Garza threw a bullpen session Monday and will make another rehab start Thursday for Class AAA Iowa.
‘‘We’ll evaluate him again after Thursday,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘He had a great bullpen today. Hopefully, that carries over.’’