The Cubs acquired left-handed ace Jon Lester and manager Joe Maddon months after going 73-89 in 2014, the team's best win total since 2010.
Rizzo made his confident guarantee speaking to CBS Chicago on Thursday:
"It's going to happen this year," Rizzo said. "It's what we're going to do. We're going to play, we're going to win the NL Central. Quote me on that. We should be the team, with all due respect to every other team, they're just as good talent wise, but we’re going to do some things this year. That's what we're expecting. That's what we're putting our sights on. We're not going to accept anything else."
The Cubs finished last in the division last season, and have not won the NL Central since 2008. That was also the club's last postseason appearance. After going 97-64 that year, the Cubs were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series.
Rizzo, 25, made his first All-Star Game in 2014 while hitting .286 with 32 home runs, 78 RBI and a .913 OPS.
After he was a sixth-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2007, Rizzo was traded to the San Diego Padres as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal in 2010. He appeared in 49 games with the Padres in 2011 before he was traded to the Cubs in January 2012.
- Mike Fiammetta