The Chicago Cubs are reportedly making efforts to sign first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Javier Baez to contract extensions.
The Cubs are expected to be sellers ahead of the July 30 trade deadline, but MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Friday that Chicago is attempting to lock up Rizzo and Baez to new deals before engaging in trade discussions involving them.
While the Cubs are trying to keep Rizzo and Baez in the fold, Heyman noted that third baseman Kris Bryant and closer Craig Kimbrel are both on the block.
The Cubs have reached the playoffs in five of the past six seasons and won the World Series in 2016, but they face an uphill climb to make the postseason in 2021.
At 44-46, the Cubs are tied for third in the National League Central and trail the Milwaukee Brewers by eight games for first place.
Chicago has already made one move since Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, trading outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for first base prospect Bryce Ball.
The situation the Cubs are entering has long been anticipated with Rizzo, Baez and Bryant all set to have their contracts expire. Each of those players had a huge hand in the Cubs' first World Series title in 108 years, and all can hit free agency in the offseason.
Rizzo, 31, has arguably been the heart and soul of the Cubs since debuting for the team in 2012. In his 10-year run with the Cubs, Rizzo is a three-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glover, one-time Platinum Glove winner and one-time Silver Slugger winner.
He has reached the 30-homer and 100-RBI threshold in a season four times apiece, and he is hitting .247 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI this season.
Rizzo hit just .222 in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, meaning his last season with upper-tier production came in 2019 when he hit a career-high .293 with 27 jacks and 94 RBI.
The 28-year-old Baez has been a key player for the Cubs since 2016 and has been the starting shortstop for the past three seasons.
He is a two-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glover and one-time Silver Slugger winner, and he was the National League Championship Series MVP in 2016.
Baez's best season came in 2018 when he hit .290 with 34 homers, 111 RBI and 101 runs scored en route to finishing second in NL MVP voting.
He struggled last season, slashing .203/.238/.360 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in 59 games, but he has been better in 2021 with a .238/.284/.493 slash line, 21 bombs and 56 RBI in 79 games.
The Cubs stand to get a ton of young talent in return if they trade all of Rizzo, Baez, Bryant and Kimbrel, but keeping Rizzo and Baez would give them two key veterans to lead a retooled roster in 2022 and beyond.