Update, 8:46pm: It’s official!
The Yankees are moving closer to acquiring Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs. #yankees— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) July 29, 2021
Whoa! Didn’t see this one coming. Nothing official yet, but Jack Curry’s initial report has been confirmed by multiple reporters now: the Yankees are trading for Anthony Rizzo. In return, the Yankees are trading prospects Kevin Alcántara and Alexander Vizcaíno to the Cubs.
Rizzo, who turns 32 in a little over a week, is the second lefty power bat acquired over the last 24 hours, joining Joey Gallo. Rizzo is purely a rental, but the Cubs are covering the remainder of his salary this season. That leaves more room for the Yankees to navigate the trade market before tomorrow afternoon.
Quick reaction: this is a great trade for the Yankees. I could complain about the Cubs sending cash to obtain a better prospect package, and believe me, I hate it. The Yankees should be taking on money, not the other way around. And yet, this is a huge boost to the current roster without subtracting any of the organization’s top prospects.
Not only does Rizzo offer power, but he makes a ton of contact. This year, Rizzo’s 15.7 percent strikeout rate is in the 85th percentile of the majors. That’s right in line with his 15.8 percent career mark.
Prime Rizzo has come and gone — he hit .284/.388/.513 (141 wRC+) from 2014 through 2019 — but he’s still a damn good hitter. This year, he’s batting .248/.346/.446 (115 wRC+) and has 14 homers in 376 plate appearances. Yankees first basemen have been awful this year, though Luke Voit has been out much of the season (more on him in a second), so Rizzo is a huge boost at the position.
Additionally, Rizzo is an elite defender at first base. He’s in the 97th percentile in outs above average at the position this year, and is consistently one of the highest rated first basemen in the game. He and Gallo drastically improve the team’s defense immediately, which is much needed.
Alcántara, 19, is a long way from the majors. The Yankees paid him a $1 million bonus as an IFA in 2018 and he’s currently in the GCL and hitting .360/.448/.520 in just 29 plate appearances. There’s a ton of upside here for the 6-foot-6 center fielder, who ranked 14th on the team’s midseason prospect list over at Baseball America. But given his age and distance to the majors, it’s difficult to project his future. He could make the Yankees look really bad a few years from now! He could also flame out.
Vizcaíno checked in at 12 on the updated Baseball America list. The right-handed pitcher had been hurt to start the season and was just getting back into games in recent weeks. He’s 24 years-old and looks like a future reliever, albeit a potentially dominant late inning type. Trading him opens up another 40-man roster spot, by the way.
Now, about Voit. He appears close to a return from the injured list after seeing him face Luis Severino in a simulated game today. His return just may not be with the Yankees, apparently. Curry mentioned on the YES postgame show, well before the Rizzo deal was reported, that Voit could be on the move. It would be a pretty unceremonious exit for Voit, who was the team’s MVP last year and an excellent hitter since his acquisition. Perhaps Voit goes in a deal for a pitcher.