It's no secret Anthony Rizzo is one of the cornerstones of the Cubs' rebuilding project.

From his first spring training in 2012 to the nonstop "Rizzo Watch" last April and May when he played at Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs have been hyping Rizzo as the next big thing.

On Monday they put their money where their mouth is, officially announcing the signing of Rizzo to a seven-year, $41 million deal, with a pair of options years that would add another $27 million, making it a potential total package of nine years and about $68 million.

"This day has come so fast," Rizzo said. "Looking back on it when I was a young kid dreaming of this day, it's a surreal moment."

President Theo Epstein drafted Rizzo in 2007 when he was the general manager of the Red Sox, with current scouting head Jason McLeod running the draft. Current general manager Jed Hoyer acquired him twice, in San Diego and in Chicago.

"We've known Anthony for a long time," Hoyer said. "Theo, Jason and I have spent a lot of time with this guy and feel like we know him really well. Ultimately you want to build your team around people you trust, people you believe in, and I think today is a really good example that we believe in Anthony."

The two sides began talks in spring training and laid the groundwork for a deal, but Rizzo wasn't satisfied until the Cubs increased their offer in the last two weeks. Hoyer said things progressed quickly over the last 10-14 days, and the deal was reached a week ago.

Rizzo said "both sides are very happy with the result," with the Cubs getting "cost certainty" and Rizzo getting security. He battled Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008 while playing for Class A Greenville in the Red Sox system and that cancer scare was a factor in his decision to sign for less than market value.

"'I've had this game taken away from me," he said. "Not being able to play the game has made me appreciate it a lot more."