Anthony Rizzo has provided a spark for the Yankees this season, but with the vet’s impending free agency, will the Bombers bring him back?
Although there are still games to be played for the New York Yankees, time’s running out, and they’re probably already evaluating a game plan for this upcoming offseason. This upcoming Winter, the Bronx Bombers will need to make a decision on whether or not to re-sign veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who will probably command a pretty substantial multi-year contract. Just like with all things, there are pros for bringing back the first baseman, but you can also argue a few key cons, or maybe even a more productive route to take in free agency altogether.
The Case for Re-Signing Rizzo…
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way: Rizzo is a true veteran and leader. He’s 32 years old and has been in the bigs since 2011, accumulating just over eight years of service time in total. He spent the majority of his career experiencing the ups and downs of the Chicago Cubs from 2012-2019 and was a key member in helping the Northsiders bring home their first World Series Championship since 1916. Bringing Rizzo back will also equal bringing back a long-time vet and a strong, leadership presence in the clubhouse. Any team that does sign Rizzo will most likely benefit greatly from that.
Now onto the field, Rizzo has had a down year for his standards, but he has been solid. On the season, he’s hitting .248 with a .345 on-base percentage. He has a 115 wRC+ and a 1.6 fWAR. Most importantly, however, he is a lefty. Rizzo can hit for power (20 home runs this year) and that will play up at Yankee Stadium given the short porch. For a team that is predominantly right-handed, maintaining a solid lefty bat in the middle of your lineup can help a ton.
Now Against Rizzo…
The key thing with Rizzo is age. Although age does mean veteran leadership, which is great, it can also signal a regressing player. Thankfully, Rizzo isn’t regressing too much and is still real solid both at the plate and in the field. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t regress in the coming years, or even next season. Rizzo will probably be receiving a solid payday of around four years and in the ballpark of $60 million. Obviously, that’s far from a megadeal, but it’s a significant contract nonetheless. If you sign Rizzo for that length, you’ll have him until he’s 36, and there remains a halfway decent chance that he begins regressing before that.
Also, the Yankees may consider another route in free agency. If they do indeed plan on moving Gleyber Torres off of shortstop full time, they could sign one from the fully-loaded shortstop class this offseason. For example, Corey Seager. The 28-year-old former World Series MVP is hitting .282 with a .374 OBP to go along with nine home runs. The reason I mention Seager is that he is a lefty, and bringing him aboard would allow the Bombers to shift Torres to second while DJ LeMahieu goes to first. This would leave no room for Rizzo.
What do the Yankees do?
I don’t mean to cop out here, but I really don’t know how the Yankees will proceed with Rizzo this offseason. I do think they’d love to have him back, but are also drawn to the likes of Seager or another shortstop, which would put a block on them re-signing Rizzo. I can say one thing, however, and that is that I do believe the Yankees will take one of the two routes that I mentioned above: they either will bring Rizzo back in pinstripes, or a new shortstop may be on the horizon.