In a move that has been widely anticipated since the end of the season, Anthony Rizzo has officially opted out of his 2023 contract with the Yankees and is now a free agent, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
Originally acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the 2021 trade deadline, Rizzo re-upped with the Yankees after last offseason’s lockout, signing a two-year, $32 million deal that contained an opt-out after 2022. Although Rizzo had quickly become a fan favorite the previous season due to his left-handed power bat and savvy glove at first base, the overall reaction to the signing was mixed — more because the Yankees had failed to reel in Freddie Freeman than anything else.
Rizzo, of course, responded with his best season since 2019. His 132 wRC+, courtesy of a .224/.338/.480 slash line, ranked sixth among first basemen (third in the AL), and his career-high 32 home runs (tying his 2014, 2016, and 2017 campaigns) tied Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for sixth in the AL. In addition to being a solid middle-of-the-order bat sandwiched between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, Rizzo also provided top-tier defense and was a Gold Glove finalist this year. On top of that, he was one of the few Yankees bats to have a not-terrible postseason, slashing .276/.432/.552 with two homers in nine games.
Given all this, that Rizzo would elect free agency again should come as no surprise to anyone.
Going forward, expect Rizzo to immediately become a priority for the Yankees this winter. Not only do they now lack a true first baseman on the roster — no, DJ LeMahieu doesn’t really count — and a left-handed bat in the middle of the order, the 33-year-old has been widely praised as an important leader in the Yankees clubhouse. But if they want him back, he’s going to cost the Yankees a lot more than the $16 million he was originally owed.