The New York Yankees traded for first baseman Anthony Rizzo at the trade deadline. He was acquired from the Chicago Cubs and on an expiring contract. The Yankees organization clearly believed that he could help them on their postseason push.
He has elements to his game that the Yankees were sometimes missing, including left-handed power, durability, and Gold Glove-caliber defense. Now that the season is over and Anthony Rizzo is officially a free agent, it"s time for the Yankees to make him an offer and lock him up for the remainder of his prime years.
Anthony Rizzo: The Player
In ten years with the Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo put together an excellent career. He is a three-time all-star, four-time gold glove winner, silver slugger, and finished in the top ten in NL MVP voting three times. He was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse for the Cubs and helped them to win a World Series. He is a versatile player with a career OPS+ of 127 and OBP of .369 while hitting 251 home runs and stealing 66 bases in his 11 total years with three teams.
What Rizzo Brings to the Yankees
There are three major traits to the overall game of Rizzo that are extremely valuable to the Yankees. The first is his durability. The Yankees are a team that has really struggled to stay healthy over the last several years. Players like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luke Voit, among others, have all had their issues with extended injuries. That has not been an issue for Rizzo. He has played in at least 140 games in every season since 2014, besides the Covid-shortened 2020 season of course, when he played in a reliable 58 games.
The Yankees are not necessarily a team known for their defense. Rizzo greatly improves them as a whole in this area. He is a huge upgrade defensively from Luke Voit or any other first baseman the Yankees have used recently. In fact, he"s their best defensive first baseman since Mark Teixeira. With the high probability of some players being out of their best positions next season, such as DJ LeMahieu possibly moving to third base, Rizzo can be a consistent and stable first baseman. He will help reduce some of the potential infield errors with his premium glove.
One of the big issues for the Yankees in recent seasons has been their lack of left-handed power. Yankees Stadium is the perfect environment for lefty sluggers because of the dimensions of the outfield. Before acquiring Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo at the trade deadline, they had almost none worth mentioning. Rizzo has consistently hit around 25 home runs per season in his career. Playing in Yankees Stadium for half of his games could increase that total even higher, increasing his offensive value.
Negotiating a Contract
Most importantly, it has recently been reported that Anthony Rizzo has a strong desire to remain with the New York Yankees. It is unclear at this point what type of contract he is looking for, or what GM Brian Cashman is even willing to offer him. Rizzo turned down five years for 70 million dollars from the Cubs. The reasoning could be several things including a desire for either more years, higher value, or just a team change. It is unlikely he would be offered too much more than that from the Yankees.
The Yankees are already locked into massive contracts with Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton. They also have a big decision to make soon on the contract of Aaron Judge. Add all of that to their desire to remain under the luxury tax and the likelihood of being in the market for a shortstop. This means Rizzo can"t really expect to break the bank with the Yankees if he does truly want to remain with the team.
For comparison, DJ LeMahieu just signed an extension with the Yankees. They are right around the same age and their values as a player are relatively similar. His deal was worth 90 million dollars over six years. That is a little better than what the Cubs offered Rizzo. If both the Yankees and Rizzo could agree to a deal similar to LeMahieu, it appears to be favorable for all involved. The Yankees would improve in several areas if they make Rizzo a priority while he gets to remain with the organization on an even better contract. It"s a win-win if both sides are reasonable in negotiations.
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