(670 The Score) The future of infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant and first baseman Anthony Rizzo has hovered over the Cubs’ strong start to this season, and as they sometimes do, the two have found that dealing with the topic in a light-hearted manner is best.
On Monday, that meant Bryant was joking about the two being a package deal and joining the same team in free agency next offseason.
“Just joking in the cage,” Bryant said, according to the Athletic and other outlets. “Anthony will be on the tee, ‘I can’t go anywhere without you. I need you.’ Stuff like that. We got our pitch. It’s like ‘Step Brothers.’ We got to go in and get the job.”
Bryant and Rizzo have become good friends since they started playing together when the Cubs called up Bryant in 2015. They've helped lead the Cubs to one World Series championship and three NL Central crowns in their time together.
“Maybe that’s why we are having more fun, because it might be the end,” Bryant said, according to the Athletic. “It might be the last time I play with Anthony Rizzo. Who knows? Maybe we’re a package deal. We’ve said it plenty of times to each other. I think that’s why a lot of guys are really embracing it and enjoying it, because it could be the last go-round.”
Bryant, Rizzo and shortstop Javier Baez, three Cubs icons who have led the way in their current era of success, are all set to be free agents at season’s end. The belief around baseball is that all three won’t be back with the Cubs, the likeliest outcome might be just one of them returning.
Over the weekend, Rizzo told Paul Sullivan of the Tribune that the Cubs could re-sign all three of their high-profile free agents if they really wanted to.
“If they want to, absolutely they can,” Rizzo said, according to the Tribune. “The game is thriving with all the TV deals, the revenue (streams). If that’s their out and it’s time to go, so be it."
Bryant, 29, is having an MVP-caliber season, hitting .308 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs and a .967 OPS in 56 games. Rizzo, 31, is hitting .261 with five homers, 22 RBIs and a .775 OPS in 53 games.
They’ve helped lead the Cubs to a 33-27 record, which is good for second place in the NL Central, a half-game back of the division-leading Brewers.