Dodgers: Anthony Rizzo speaks glowingly of Dodger Stadium

Anthony Rizzo at Dodger Stadium (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Anthony Rizzo at Dodger Stadium (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo loves the competition and atmosphere the Los Angeles Dodgers offer at Dodger Stadium.

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who is set to become a free agent next offseason if the team somehow refuses his club option, is a big fan of playing at Dodger Stadium, and appreciates the challenge of facing the National League’s premier franchise.

"“When you play the Dodgers in L.A., it’s always fun, always electric,” Rizzo recently said to Sports Illustrated. “Dodger Stadium is a great stadium to play in – and they have good fans. They’re fun to play, because they bring their best every single game. As a competitor that’s what you want to stack up against.”"

Rizzo respects the string of success the Dodgers have put together in winning seven consecutive division titles and appearing in two of the last three World Series.

"“The Dodgers have been on an incredible run of success for the last seven to ten years. Just the way they’ve been winning the division and dominating. They’re always good and are a great organization from the ground up,” Rizzo said. “The pitching staff and their bullpen are very deep.”"

The 30-year-old is in eighth season of a seven-year $41 million extension he signed in 2013 that includes two option years. The Cubs decided to exercise his option for the 2020 season, but talks about a possible extension that would pick up on his final club option year in 2021 have been put on hold.

The Cubs have carried one of the highest tax burdens in Major League Baseball over the past several seasons. Based on their current payroll, 2020 would be their second consecutive season paying the tax, which would put them in danger of facing a significant penalty in 2021, if they exceed the tax threshold for a third time. As big spenders like the Yankees and Red Sox have shown a willingness to do, the Cubs appear ready to reset their tax count by remaining below the threshold in 2021.

Rizzo could lose out due to the Cubs’ expected payroll tightening. He recently shared his displeasure with how the tax discourages teams from prioritizing winning over money.

"“I think the luxury tax wasn’t meant to be a salary cap, and teams are treating it like that,’’ Rizzo told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘Are you sacrificing winning a championship to be under the tax threshold? Who knows? We don’t know that.’’"

The Cubs would be prudent to pick up Rizzo’s $14.5 million option next season, but if extension talks sour, perhaps a divorce happens sooner than later.

If Rizzo hits the open market, the Dodgers don’t appear to be an obvious landing spot for the Gold Glove first baseman. They have Max Muncy locked up to a team-friendly extension through 2022, with a club option for 2023.

Of course, if league rules should change and MLB decides to implement a permanent designated hitter in the National League after potentially experimenting with it in 2020, there could be an opening for Rizzo’s bat if Muncy becomes a permanent DH.

Another opportunity could arise if Justin Turner leaves in free agency, and the Dodgers look to replace his production with Rizzo, allowing Muncy to play more often at third, or cycling Muncy and Rizzo between first base and a possible DH role.

This is all speculation, as there have been no reports indicating the Dodgers are interested in signing Rizzo in free agency. It also seems unlikely he could hit the open market until 2022, if the Cubs fail to sign him to an extension but decide to exercise his final club option.

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Of course, the Dodgers number one priority next offseason will be locking up Mookie Betts to a long-term deal.