The New York Yankees have once again been tossed out of the postseason by the Houston Astros, and now that the offseason is here, decisions need to be made by general manager Brian Cashman and the team brass about the roster. According to Jim Bowden, a player of the utmost importance in Anthony Rizzo is expected to opt out of his $16 million player option for the coming season.
Rizzo had one of the best seasons of his 12-year Major League Baseball career, slashing .224/.338/.480 with a wRC+ of 132 over the course of 130 regular season games. He ranked fifth on the Yankees in fWAR (2.4) as well. In the postseason, he was one of the only influential players the Yankees had on their roster. He slashed .276/.432/.552 with a 185 wRC+ in total against the Astros and Cleveland Guardians.
While Rizzo’s defense wasn’t the best throughout the season according to the analytics (-3 defensive runs saved per FanGraphs and -3 outs above average per Baseball Savant), he was nominated for the 2022 Gold Glove award. He will be against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Luis Arraez in the running.
Rizzo coming up to the plate in the previous postseason usually meant good things were about to happen, but having just turned 33-years-old, there’s a limited amount that teams will do in terms of his contract. The Yankees have seen this happen before with two players—CC Sabathia in 2011 and Aroldis Chapman in 2019. Sabathia signed an extension with the team for five years worth $122 million. Chapman also signed an extension instead of opting out with the Yankees. He signed a contract that added a year of term and $18 million.
Those two examples of players signing extensions instead of going for their opt-out option is the perfect example of what should happen in this Rizzo saga. The time before he opts out is something the Yankees have taken advantage of before, and they should do again. Re-signing one of their best players throughout the season and postseason should be of the utmost importance to the front office.
The element that Rizzo brings to the lineup cannot be overstated. The Yankees have consistently looked for left-handed power bats, and ever since coming to The Bronx, the Parkland, Florida native has been exactly what they bargained for. If the Yankees were to lose him to the free agent market, they would have some options to choose from, but there wouldn’t be many that would help the team in its current state or provide what Rizzo can provide. He’s a perfect fit for this lineup and stadium.
This offseason is crucial for a team that just suffered another devastating postseason loss to a team that has dominated them in every sense of the word. The Astros have everything figured out and are firing on all cylinders, and the Yankees cannot risk falling further behind. Rizzo potentially opting out of his player option is just another item to put on the to-do list for Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner. Not only is their star player Aaron Judge potentially on the move, but so is their extremely valuable first baseman. The Yankees need to prepare to spend some real money over the winter, because the roster will be in trouble if they don’t.