We think you’d be a great fit for a leadership position, Anthony. Care to prove it?
Brian Cashman shocked (legitimately shocked) the world when he pulled the trigger on Rizzo amid a sea of Trevor Story rumors on Thursday night. The move left jaws dropped, but if you’d read the tea leaves earlier in the day, one of the deal’s ripples shouldn’t have been completely out of left field.
Or rather, out of first base, like the rehabbing Luke Voit appears to be now that Rizzo’s on board for August and September.
YES Network’s Jack Curry dropped the breadcrumbs earlier on Thursday, hinting that the Yankees were exploring Voit in many potential deals built around pitching help. Then, hours later, an All-Star, left-handed first baseman who plays Gold Glove defense and is about to turn 32 arrived.
The kind of moment that makes an incumbent think about his future, huh?
Of the two similar sluggers, only one has the undefinable “championship pedigree” that Yankee fans dream of, and we’re about to get a crash course on whether or not that’s a real thing that contributes to winning undecided games (HINT: It’s not … unless it is?). This two-month stretch is about to determine whether Rizzo has any chance of sticking around beyond 2021, and whether Voit has a future here whatsoever.
Will the Yankees extend Anthony Rizzo and trade Luke Voit?
As the deadline approaches, the signs are still screaming that Voit is gone, but who’s he getting packaged for? Jose Berrios? The price there is rising, and the pressure’s on the Padres.
Jon Gray? The Rockies have claimed fervently that he’s not going anywhere. German Marquez? We can’t imagine that’s a conversation being had. It could be something we haven’t analyzed whatsoever.
The blanks will be filled in later, but it still feels like the Yankees are oddly willing to trade the oft-hobbled Voit, who’s still been the team’s second-best hitter behind Aaron Judge since his arrival in 2018 (when available).
If it were up to us, we’d keep as many good hitters as we could, considering offense hasn’t exactly been a luxury for the Yankees, and rotate Voit between first base and DH if he can get healthy, moving Giancarlo Stanton to the outfield a few times per week. It’s not up to us, though. It seems the Yankees have made their decision.
So … who’s going to play first base in 2022? Without Voit, there’s no one on the current depth chart who feels viable. Chris Gittens will not be your starter. DJ LeMahieu might be, with Gleyber Torres shifting to second and an All-Star-to-be-named-later manning short. Prior to the Rizzo trade, we’d already speculated they might be moving Voit or Gio Urshela in the offseason to make room for a superstar shortstop, and this only appears to have sped up the timeline, not changed the calculus.
Sure, Rizzo could redefine the Yankees’ culture and make himself as essential as LeMahieu did a few years ago in 2019. He could become a fan favorite — nay, a fan deity — with his power bat (he’d have 23 homers instead of 14 if he’d played the whole season in the Bronx), defensive intensity, and propensity to make contact. He could buy himself three more seasons with the team, despite Cashman’s reticence.
What’s more likely, though, is neither Voit nor Rizzo making next year’s roster, and DJ LeMahieu shifting over to accommodate Corey Seager, displaced by Thursday’s Trea Turner trade. That’s our best guess.