Anthony Rizzo will return to the Yankees for at least one more season according to multiple reports. It’s a two year deal worth $32 million, but Rizzo can opt out after the 2022 season (Jesse Rogers). This move officially takes the Yankees out of the running for Freddie Freeman. Apparently, the Yankees “grew weary” of waiting on Freeman’s decision (Brendan Kuty). And yet, they also fear he could go to Boston (Jon Heyman). Goodness gracious, the optics of this are awful.
All this isn’t meant to be a slight on Rizzo, who’s still a good player. PECOTA projects a .257/.364/.444 (119 DRC+) and slightly above average defense. I’ll take that right now. Plus, he fit in well with the team after the trade deadline last summer. It’s just that…there were better options out there in Freeman and Matt Olson.
Rizzo’s return will mean the end of Luke Voit’s career in the Bronx. Expect a trade soon. The Yankees need to clear a 40-man spot for Rizzo, not to mention how awkward it would be to have the two of them in camp at the same time.
This move also affects DJ LeMahieu, who’s effectively back in the infield rover role that the team had planned for him back in 2019. With an infield of Rizzo, Gleyber Torres at second, Isiah Kiner-Falefa at short, and Josh Donaldson at the hot corner, LeMahieu will have to spell his teammates throughout the season. If LeMahieu repeats his 2021 performance, that’s probably a better role for him anyway.
Last but certainly not least, Rizzo’s vaccination status is important to consider. He wasn’t vaccinated last season, and considering the reports about New York City’s employer private sector vaccine mandate indeed applying to the Yankees, he won’t be eligible to play home games as long as that rule is in place (unless he got vaccinated over the offseason, of course). Can’t forget about potentially being ineligible to play in Toronto, either.
Look, I wanted Freeman or Olson. Not getting either of those two, along with (barring some surprise) Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, has made for a disappointing offseason. Are the Yankees a better team than yesterday? Sure, and the offseason still isn’t over. It just feels like multiple significant upgrades have been left at the table.