The Chicago Cubs find themselves in an impossible situation this offseason

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammate Javier Baez #9 after the Cubs defeated the Baltimore Orioles 8-0 during a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 16, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 16: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammate Javier Baez #9 after the Cubs defeated the Baltimore Orioles 8-0 during a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 16, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Plans for Anthony Rizzo

The Chicago Cubs exercised their club option on Rizzo’s contract for the 2021 season. Owed $16.5 million, Rizzo should remain with the team through its next 162 games.

There’s a chance the Cubs try to re-sign him, though the offer would have to weigh on the side of team-friendly. He’s 31 years old, so unless the front office maintains its winning intentions, Rizzo will likely latch on with a contending club to spend the rest of his prime years.

He’s already accomplished the greatest feat in club history by ending a 108-year championship drought. And the taste of a dynasty would permanently cease if the Cubs were to trade away their top players. It’s hard to find a reason for Rizzo to stick around.

Other players of concern

If Chicago opts to rebuild by trading one or both Javier Baez and Kris Bryant and send Rizzo on his merry way, they might as well offload a few more vets.

Willson Contreras, the Cubs’ 28-year-old backstop, is on pace to become a free agent after the 2022 season. Contreras is one of the better offensive catchers in MLB, making him considerably valuable.

The Cubs are probably stuck with Jason Heyward and the $44 million remaining on his contract. Starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks are their other significant liabilities. Darvish has $59 million left on his contract, though he does have the autonomy to opt-out after each season leading up to 2023. Hendricks signed a four-year, $55 million contract extension that takes effect next year.

Both starters are trending upward; Hendricks posted a career-low 2.88 ERA over 12 starts in 2020, and Darvish finished second in Cy Young voting with a 2.01 ERA and an 8-3 record.

If a contender is looking to add an ace, the top of the Cubs rotation is an ideal place to start. Money would need to be worked out, but Chicago has an avenue for shedding at least part of two substantial contracts and swapping their best pitchers for promising youth.

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We’ll see what Jed Hoyer and the Chicago Cubs have in store for their players and fans over the next year. The decision process begins with Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. The way Hoyer manages those two will indicate subsequent moves for his remaining veterans.