In a stunning turn of events, the Yankees have reportedly acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs. Less than a day after moving on Joey Gallo, and mere hours after getting blown off the field in Tampa, the Yankees continue to try to turn their season around via external reinforcements.
This qualifies as one of the more shocking trades in recent memory. Few linked Rizzo to the Yankees, a team with incumbent first base starter Luke Voit theoretically nearing a return from injury and DJ LeMahieu ably holding the fort in the interim. However, rumors swirled today regarding Voit’s status with the club, and now, the Yankees have a new star at the cold corner.
Rizzo is the midst of a solid 2021 campaign, his final season before hitting free agency. He’s run a .248/.346/.446 slash line, good for a 116 OPS+, while providing his typically strong defense at first base. That’s roughly in line with his 2020 production; since the start of last year, he’s chipped in 2.5 rWAR in 150 games. That represents a drop from his excellent 2019 season, which featured a 140 OPS+, but Rizzo still profiles as a quality starter even as he declines.
The 31-year-old possesses a $16.5 million salary for 2021, which means even his prorated hit would put the Yankees into the luxury tax. Ken Rosenthal reports the Cubs will pay for most (or all), of Rizzo’s salary, so the Yankees appear dead set on ducking the tax. Inevitably, they will pay in prospects what they refuse to pay in dollars.
In any event, Rizzo is a rental, one brought in with solely this season in mind. In just two days, the Yankees have changed the complexion of the roster, even if the onfield results have remained maddening. They’ve added two huge lefty bats to a lineup that needed a jolt. We’ll see if it’s enough to energize this team toward a playoff run.
As per usual, let us know what you think of the deal, and as more details emerge, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date.
Update (6:50 pm EST): Jack Curry reports pitcher Alexander Vizcaíno and outfielder Kevin Alcantara are headed to Chicago in return. Both are solid prospects, but for the second time in as many days, the Yankees appear to have substantially improved their team without touching their top prospects:
For Rizzo, the Yankees parted with pitcher Alexander Vizcaino and OF Kevin Alcantara. Just like in the Gallo deal with Texas, the Cubs are picking up the money left on Rizzo’s 2021 contract.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) July 29, 2021
Update: The move is done.
The New York Yankees today announced that they have acquired INF Anthony Rizzo and cash considerations from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league right-handed pitcher Alexander Vizcaíno and outfielder Kevin Alcántara.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 30, 2021