Fewer than 24 hours after general manager Brian Cashman sent four prospects to Texas for slugger Joey Gallo, the Yankees have struck again. Late yesterday afternoon, New York and the Chicago Cubs agreed on a deal to bring first baseman Anthony Rizzo to the Bronx in exchange for prospects Kevin Alcantara and Alexander Vizcaino. Meanwhile, according to Jack Curry, the Cubs are also picking up the entirety of Rizzo’s remaining 2021 salary.
From the Yankees’ standpoint, the acquisition of Rizzo accomplishes several things simultaneously, adds tremendous value, and does not handcuff the front office from making further moves. First, due to a combination of injuries to Luke Voit and underperformance by his replacements, first base has been an offensive black hole for the Bronx Bombers this season.
With Voit still hurt, Rizzo instantly stabilizes an important offensive position. Even during a season that doesn’t live up to the back of his baseball card, Rizzo’s 115 wRC+ and .343 wOBA represent substantial improvement. Meanwhile, if Statcast’s metrics are any indication, Rizzo will also bring defensive prowess to the position, as he leads all MLB first basemen in Runs Prevented (5) and Outs Above Average (7).
Second, the Yankees have suffered all season from an utter dearth of power from the left side of the plate. They began to rectify that by bringing Gallo in from Texas. Rizzo, another lefty masher, further balances a Yankee lineup that now features legitimate power from the left side in Gallo and Rizzo, power that complements the right-handed sluggers that currently hold down the fort.
Third, Rizzo continues to lengthen the Yankees lineup. After his addition, and barring any further moves, the Yankees batting order looks something like this.
Yankees projected lineup:— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) July 29, 2021
DJ LeMahieu, 2B
Aaron Judge, RF
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Giancarlo Stanton, DH
Joey Gallo, LF
Gary Sanchez, C
Gleyber Torres, SS
Gio Urshela, 3B
Brett Gardner, CF
That is a formidable Yankees order, with only Brett Gardner (or perhaps Greg Allen) in the 9-hole representing a relatively safe landing spot for opposing pitchers. With the injuries that have ravaged the Yankees throughout 2021, the lineup moving forward is the deepest and most dangerous it has been all season.
On the other side of the deal, while the prospects headed to the Cubs are legitimate, neither are in the inner circle of the Yankees system. In its midseason update, Baseball America listed Vizcaino 12th and Alcantara 14th in the organization. Even after two trades that sent away a combined six Baby Bombers, Brian Cashman retained his big-time prospects and has allowed himself the flexibility to make further moves as the clock ticks toward the trade deadline.
Finally, the Rizzo deal builds on the Gallo trade in that it helps further inject a sense of excitement into a team and a fanbase that have suffered through a mediocre, and to be honest, often boring season. Brian Cashman, in the space of 24 hours, has injected life and energy into a listless Yankees’ season. And he may well not be done yet. Are you not entertained?
#Yankees source says: “We are not done.” Do with that what you will.— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) July 29, 2021
I think after the Gallo trade, everyone expected another deal from the Yankees. I am uncertain how many people anticipated that the move would involve bringing in a first baseman rather than pitching or a shortstop. But Anthony Rizzo’s left-handed bat and steady glove work should fortify a position of need, balance out and lengthen the Yankees’ lineup, and if the buzz on Yankees Twitter is any indication, provide a further jolt of electricity into a jacked-up fanbase.