Anthony Rizzo had less than one year of major-league service time coming into this season.
So a lot of factors had to come together for the Cubs to give Rizzo the seven-year, $41 million deal they announced Monday.
For general manager Jed Hoyer, those factors include building the Cubs' core of players, gaining cost certainty and knowing Rizzo's character from having him with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres.
"It's pretty unusual, but I think it's pretty unusual when you have a situation like this, when you have the president, the GM, the guy who runs scouting and player development that have all known Anthony for a long time," Hoyer said. "We felt like we were in a good position to make that kind of investment. We get some cost certainty out of the deal.
"We get between one and three years of longer control of Anthony, and he gets a lot of security in the deal. I think it's a great matchup for both sides. It is unusual that it's early, but I think our knowledge of Anthony and our belief in him as a person makes that possible."
Rizzo, who turns 24 on Aug. 8, gets a deal that guarantees him $41 million over seven years and could grow to nine years and $68 million if the Cubs exercise two option years.
The contract takes Rizzo through his final two pre-arbitration seasons, his four arbitration seasons and his first free-agent season, plus his second and third free-agent seasons if the two club options are exercised.
The risk for Rizzo is that he can no longer get a huge arbitration award if he has a monster season in the next few years.
"I always wanted security to help my family be secure in life," he said. "It's just nice to have that security, and it's nice to go out and be able to play.
"I knew for a while this was getting done. The last couple days have been so nice to play baseball. I feel like I'm playing Little League again.
"It's all about winning now. There's nothing else in the way. It's all about the team and nothing else."
Hoyer said the two sides began negotiating late in spring training and then "the clock sort of ran out on us" as Opening Day approached, "and we didn't want to be negotiating after Opening Day."
But talks picked up again "about a week to 10 days ago," according to Hoyer, who said the deal got done last Wednesday, with Rizzo taking a physical Thursday.
Rizzo entered Monday night's game against the Colorado Rockies with a hitting line of .280/.352/.538 with a team-high 9 home runs and 28 RBI, which also lead the Cubs.
He was drafted by the Red Sox in 2007, when Hoyer, Cubs president Theo Epstein and scouting and player-development chief Jason McLeod were there. When Hoyer moved to San Diego, he acquired Rizzo in a trade.
Rizzo struggled in his first major-league action with the Padres in 2011 and was traded to the Cubs in January 2012.
After beginning last year at Class AAA Iowa, he came up in late June and hit 15 home runs while driving in 48.
It was also last summer when the Cubs signed shortstop Starlin Castro to a seven-year, $60 million extension and gave Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler a nine-year, $30 million major-league deal.
"I think there's nothing an organization wants more than to build a core and then know those are the players the fans can expect to see every year," Hoyer said. "You want a group of players that grow up together and learn to trust each other and learn how to win together."
Hoyer declined to say whether the Cubs had any other deals in place with "core" players, especially pitchers.
"I'd rather not answer it directly," he said. "Certainly, we've kept this really quiet. No one really knew we were talking to Anthony about a deal, and we'd like to keep that going in the future.
"It's certainly a little different calculus with a pitcher. The kind of deal we did with Anthony, seven years with the potential for nine, I think that's pretty unusual for a pitcher.
"You probably factor in injury more with a pitcher than you do with a position player. But certainly extending a guy and gaining more control, that's a positive."
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