As we predicted back in April, Anthony Rizzo has opted out of his contract with the Yankees. The All-Star first baseman’s decision was reported Monday. He now leaves a guaranteed $16 million on the table and will test the free agent market.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 8, 2022
Rizzo turned in a solid season for the Yankees at age 33. He hit a modest .224, but tied his career-high with 32 home runs and 75 RBI in 130 games. Missing two weeks with a back injury probably robbed him of a new career-high as well.
There are plenty of reasons for the Yankees to re-sign Rizzo, who grew up a Yankees fan and whose family is originally from northern New Jersey. Yet, knowing the Yankees and general manager Brin Cashman’s obsession with analytics, will they?
Pros. The obvious pro for re-signing Anthony Rizzo is that the man was practically born to be a New York Yankee. His left-handed swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium. Rizzo also has an uncanny ability to choke up on the bat and use the whole field instead of just being a pull hitter. He’s posted an .804 OPS since coming over from the Cubs last season and proved a perfect fit in New York from the start.
But what really stands out about Rizzo is his leadership. If Aaron Judge is the de facto captain of the New York Yankees, then Anthony Rizzo is his loyal first mate. If a pitcher was ever struggling in a game for whatever reason, Rizzo would often take a quick trip to the mound to settle him down. Even as the Yankees struggled in August, he managed a smile in the dugout.
Regardless of who plays first base in New York next year, this will be hard to replicate if Rizzo leaves.
Cons. There’s no real con to re-signing Rizzo from a baseball standpoint, except for maybe his age and the ensuing injury issues. Yet, odds are his next contract will be another shorter-term deal, and all teams including the Yankees should be fine with that.
Rather, the greater issue in this case is if the Yankees don’t re-sign him. Adding an aging Brandon Belt or Jose Abreu in free agency won’t do. There are no legitimate first base prospects in the minors. DJ LeMahieu could theoretically take over at first, but he’s more suited as an everyday utility player and is now battling injuries.
In a nutshell, the biggest con to the Yankees re-signing Rizzo is that if he leaves, the team is in trouble.
Verdict. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to envision Anthony Rizzo playing anywhere else but in Yankee pinstripes. He’s not shy about how much he and his wife love living in the city. His North Jersey roots and growing up a fan just add to why he’ll probably stay with the Yankees.
He hasn’t tipped his hand at all, but odds are Rizzo comes back to New York. He’ll be paid well and on a slightly longer deal for more money without breaking the bank.
Prediction. Anthony Rizzo re-signs with the Yankees for 3 years, $55.5 million. Opt-out after two years, plus an $18 million swell-opt for 2026.