November 15th, 2022
NEW YORK — Anthony Rizzo is keeping his Yankees pinstripes for a while longer, agreeing Tuesday to a two-year contract with a club option for the 2025 season, the club announced. The deal is worth at least $40 million, sources told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, but the team did not disclose the terms.
Rizzo’s new pact will pay him $34 million over the next two seasons, with a $17 million club option or $6 million buyout for 2025, per sources.
Rizzo, who turned 33 in August, batted .224/.338/.480 in 130 games this season for the Yankees, his first full campaign in New York after being acquired from the Cubs ahead of the 2021 Trade Deadline.
A natural fit for Yankee Stadium’s inviting right-field porch, Rizzo tied his career high with 32 home runs, driving in 75 runs while providing needed left-handed balance to the lineup and a reliable glove at first base.
“He’s been everything we could have hoped for,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said recently. “He’s been an amazing person in our clubhouse, an amazing teammate, amazing leader, very productive on the field. I think [he’s] very much cut out to play for the Yankees. He handles all that goes with playing here as one of the premium players and leaders so well.”
Rizzo’s park-adjusted OPS+ of 131 put him in the top 30 among qualified hitters in 2022 and made him the second-most productive bat in a Yankees offense that struggled to find consistency behind Aaron Judge. Rizzo and Judge have developed a close friendship during their time together.
The Astros also reportedly had interest in Rizzo, a career .265 hitter over 12 big league seasons who won the World Series with the Cubs in 2016. A three-time All-Star while in Chicago, he has posted an above-average OPS+ (over 100) in 11 straight seasons and topped the 20-homer mark in each of his past nine full seasons (setting aside the shortened 2020 campaign).
Rizzo will enter 2023 with a career line of .265/.366/.481, needing 17 more homers to reach the 300 mark. On the defensive side, Rizzo won four NL Gold Glove Awards at first base from 2016 to ’20 but has posted -5 outs above average since joining the Yankees.
In March, Rizzo signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Yanks that included an opt-out after the 2022 season, which he exercised. Rizzo and Judge both received qualifying offers, valued at $19.65 million, which they declined.
Speaking on Tuesday at the MLB owners’ meetings in New York, Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner indicated that Judge’s free agency would not necessarily preclude the club from moving on a free agent like Rizzo.
“Am I going to make moves before we’re able to, in my opinion, sign Aaron?” Steinbrenner said. “Yeah, that’s not going to stop me from signing other people. We’ve got to make the moves. It’s all about who’s going to come off the board. Some guys are going to come off the board sooner than others, and if it’s somebody we feel we need, then I’ve got to make the decision to continue to improve the club and not just hold back until we figure out Aaron.”
While Rizzo is back in the fold as the starting first baseman, the rest of the Yankees’ infield could change before Opening Day. Josh Donaldson is expected to return as the third baseman, with Steinbrenner lauding the veteran’s defense as well as a work ethic that he said is “second to none.”
Josh Donaldson’s backhanded snag
Steinbrenner voiced concerns about DJ LeMahieu’s health coming off a lingering toe injury on his right foot that sapped his productivity and availability in the second half of the season.
“It’s not a usual injury,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s not a normal one we see on every team every year. I don’t know enough about it. We have not been told surgery is out. The question is, how long after surgery? We’re not there.”
Steinbrenner has also said that he intends to see top prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe in the middle of the infield, raising the possibility that second baseman Gleyber Torres or shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa could be moved.
“As far as the young kids — [Oswaldo] Cabrera included, who was a great surprise when he came up — we’re going to go with young kids,” Steinbrenner said. “Some of the veteran players, they’d like to see that, because I’ve talked to them.”