The Chicago Cubs have viewed Anthony Rizzo as a part of their future since they acquired him.
Now he's locked in.
The slugging first baseman and the Cubs agreed Monday to a $41 million US, seven-year contract that could be worth up to $68 million over nine seasons.
"We believe in Anthony," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We think he's going to be a very big part of our future here in Chicago, and we're excited to get a deal done.
The 23-year-old is hitting .280 with a .352 on-base percentage. He also has nine home runs and 28 RBIs in his third major league season.
Rizzo realized that he was taking "maybe a little bit of a discount now" but said "it's security for now and it's a huge weight off my shoulder, my family's shoulders, my kids' shoulders, my grandkids' shoulders."
Hoyer said talks for a new deal began with about two weeks left in spring training but were halted before opening day. They restarted less than two weeks ago.
Rizzo gets a $2 million signing bonus, of which $250,000 is payable within 30 days of the contract's approval by Major League Baseball and $1.75 million is payable next Jan. 15.
'This day has come so fast. Looking back on it, when I was a young kid dreaming of this day, it's a surreal moment.' — Cubs 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo
He receives a $750,000 salary this year, up from $498,000 under the agreement he reached in March. He then will earn $1.25 million next year, $5 million apiece in 2015 and 2016, $7 million each in 2017 and 2018 and $11 million in 2019.
Chicago has a $14.5 million option for 2020 with a $2 million buyout. If that is exercised, the Cubs will have a $14.5 million for 2021 with a $2 million buyout.
"This day has come so fast," Rizzo said. "Looking back on it, when I was a young kid dreaming of this day, it's a surreal moment."
With chairman Tom Ricketts and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein watching, the Cubs announced a deal that has the highest average annual value ($5,857,143) for a position player with less than two years of major league service. Among pitchers in that service group, Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma ($7 million), Toronto's Ricky Romero ($6.02 million) and San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner ($5,592,667) have higher averages.
"I think it's a great matchup for both sides," Hoyer said. "It is unusual that it is early, but I think our knowledge of Anthony and our belief in him as a person makes that possible."
Hoyer declined to say if the Cubs are negotiating new deals with other players, but said he "certainly" hopes there are others who follow Rizzo.
Rizzo was selected out of high school in the sixth round of the 2007 amateur draft by Boston, a time when Epstein and Hoyer were running the Red Sox front office. Hoyer was the Padres' general manager when San Diego dealt for Rizzo.
He was treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008 and played only 21 games that season. He recovered, became a top prospect and was dealt to San Diego in December 2010 as part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
Rizzo then played 49 games for the Padres in 2011 but struggled, hitting .141 with one homer and RBIs. He was traded to Chicago in January 2012 for Andrew Cashner.
Rizzo was batting just .173 heading into the game at Miami on April 26. He hit a 420-foot home run to centre and a 413-foot shot to the upper deck in right field that day for his second career two-homer game. It also gave him eight for the season, the most by a Cubs left-handed hitter in April.
Last August, the Cubs gave shortstop Starlin Castro a $60 million, seven-year contract.
"I feel happy because I feel like I have him and me for a long time here," Castro said.
And manager Dale Sveum thought the deal bodes well for a team without a World Series title since 1908.
It's pretty important to all of us, the city, the organization, to have somebody like that locked up for that long," he said.