On late Tuesday afternoon, we got an answer to one of the key questions surrounding the Yankees’ offseason. While, no, it didn’t answer that question, it did resolve another important one. The Yankees now have their first baseman for the next two years, and possibly a third, with the news that Anthony Rizzo is back.
Shortly after he declined the qualifying offer, reports began to emerge that Rizzo and the Yankees had worked out a deal. The first two years of the deal are worth $17 million each, and the third would be as well should the Yankees decide to pick up their club option. If not, Rizzo would be owed $6 million as a buyout, guaranteeing him at least $40 million.
Considering that the Yankees traded for him and signed him ahead of last season, Rizzo was a guy that they obviously saw as a fit, and nothing about 2022 seemed to change that notion.
With the Astros showing interest in Rizzo, it was vital for the Yankees to retain him. He’s superb defensively, he provides smart and productive at bats and he’s a leader. Also, he’s very close with Judge so that’s another potential positive with this signing.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) November 15, 2022
Anthony Rizzo was a must for the Yankees. I know there are issues with the back but he checks so many boxes for the team. The lack of a full shift helps. The power is still there. The glove is still there. Good contact bat. It is an important sign.— Randy Wilkins (@pamsson) November 15, 2022
This past season, his first full one in New York, Rizzo matched his career high in homers. That makes sense considering that he’s a lefty with good power playing home games at Yankee Stadium. On the other hand, he did put up one of the lower batting averages of his career, after being a decent contact hitter with the Cubs earlier in his career. However, there are new rules coming into effect next year, one of them banning the shift. That change has the potential to help Rizzo add some hits.
Some outs that will be hits next season for Rizzo. (or at the least, harder plays to make)— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 15, 2022
13 more of these hits would have raised his average to .252 last year, along with the 32 homers pic.twitter.com/rae6vC9lJp
While Rizzo’s not exactly a new addition to the team that lost to the Astros in less than stellar fashion, he was still one of the best hitters on the team. Taking him out of the lineup would’ve potentially been a blow. To add on to that, one of the other teams rumored to have been looking at him were the team that just owned the Yankees in the ALCS.
The Astros have identified Anthony Rizzo as their No. 1 free-agent target at first base, per @Ken_Rosenthal pic.twitter.com/uMkUlsQsYU— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) November 15, 2022
Now, you never want to sign a player just for the sole purpose of keeping them off an opponent, but opting to no re-sign Rizzo and then losing him to Houston would’ve felt like a blow. There are still options out there at first base for the Astros, but Rizzo would’ve been a good acquisition for them.
As alluded to, Rizzo and first base was one of the lingering questions going into this winter, but it’s still not the big one. That remains Aaron Judge. However, that does lead to questions about whether or not Rizzo being back has any implications on Judge.
On a purely monetary front, this deal, or others, wouldn’t have any impact on their offers to Judge, at least according to Hal Steinbrenner.
With #Yankees re-signing Anthony Rizzo, Hal Steinbrenner did say earlier that other moves would not have a financial impact on what they would offer Judge.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) November 15, 2022
There are potential implications with Rizzo and Judge that go beyond just the money.
Anthony Rizzo truly enjoyed being a Yankee, and getting $20 million a year to stay -- $17 million each of the next two years, plus a $6 million buyout on a 2025 option -- keeps him in the Bronx.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 15, 2022
Worth noting: Rizzo has grown very close with Aaron Judge over the last two years.
The two demonstrated their “dudes rock” bona fides by buying and wearing matching shirts earlier this year.
Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, who are both the proud fathers of Dachshunds, rolled into the Yankees clubhouse today wearing matching Dachshund print Hawaiian-style shirts they found on Instagram.— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) April 28, 2022
It's gonna be a yes from me, dawg. pic.twitter.com/uynHzf5tuy— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 28, 2022
At the end of the day, Rizzo remaining a Yankee will not be the deciding factor for Judge. All of that will come down to the contract offers he receives. The percentage that this matters to the Judge negotiations is almost certainly very, very small. Still, bringing Rizzo back into he fold certainly isn’t a negative. Other Yankees’ players seemed fairly happy with the news.
November 15, 2022
It’s a good feeling to have when you walk thru these doors with the Rizz. Welcome back !!! pic.twitter.com/cHzfZjronw— Nestor Cortes (@Cortes_1210) November 15, 2022
Re-signing Rizzo seems to be a pretty solid move for the Yankees. He was good at the plate and on defense for them last season, and vibes-wise he seems like a perfect fit. There’s still a lot that the Yankees need to figure out this offseason, but this appears to be a solid start.