The New York Yankees are going to have a serious decision to make at the end of the 2021 season regarding the future of their first base position.
Are they ready to hand the keys back to Luke Voit, who’s utterly mashed when given the chance to do so, post-deadline? Can they live with his defensive deficiencies as long as his bat is highly effective?
Or do they extend deadline acquisition Anthony Rizzo, who instantly starred upon arriving, but hasn’t regained his offensive footing after a nasty bout with COVID-19?
Even at his worst offensively, though, Rizzo’s been steady-handed and has provided much-needed lineup balance. He’s seemed natural in the uniform, becoming a fan favorite from the moment of acquisition.
Our preferred solution? We’ve been steady with our advocacy for keeping both, especially since we know how often the Yankees’ biggest bats drop like flies throughout any given season.
We understand it’s not ideal for payroll purposes and roster crunches, but … dammit, Rizzo just feels like a perfect leader who can help this core to the promised land. And we’re not the only ones.
Just ask outfielder Ian Happ, who told his Jomboy Media coworkers this week that, if he can’t return to the Cubs, Rizzo feels like a natural Yankee.
Anthony Rizzo is made to be a Yankees first baseman, says Ian Happ.
It’s good to hear a player on another team say it for once.
Call it reactionary, but it really feels like the 2022 season and the construction of the roster will be heavily impacted by the September and October trajectory of this Yankee team.
If we witness another early flameout, Gio Urshela could hit the trade market, as the Yankees attempt to get ahead of a logjam. Aroldis Chapman might be shopped either way. Aaron Boone could be in serious trouble, even as he gets Manager of the Year whispers. And a Rizzo extension will be far less likely if he doesn’t have an ingrained Yankee legacy; the team will probably just roll with LeMahieu and Voit, move Gleyber Torres to second, and go sign a monster shortstop.
If Urshela has a dream October, though, he won’t be going anywhere. This team isn’t ruthless. Same goes for Rizzo, who could just as easily pull a Hideki Matsui this postseason as he could fade away.
Something about the fit feels flawless, though. Every great Yankees team in recent history has featured a slick-fielding first baseman with mid-20-homer pop and a flair for the dramatic, all qualities Rizzo absolutely possesses. For all Aaron Judge’s talk, he’s yet to advance to a World Series, let alone win one, and the roster’s confidence seems to reflect that shortcoming.
We’ll see what happens, but Rizzo really could be the missing piece — and he could be “it” for a while yet to come.