It’s doubtful you missed it, but reports surfaced on Monday suggesting Anthony Rizzo was “eager” to return to the New York Yankees after his two-month stint with the team following the trade deadline.
Color us a tad surprised, too. The Yankees, outside of their early July-August run, were a gigantic letdown, in just about every facet. The media burned them relentlessly (guilty!) and they finished the season getting punked by the division-rival Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox.
Who knows, though, maybe the bar is a bit low for Rizzo after he’s spent four and a half very underwhelming years with the Chicago Cubs after their World Series victory in 2016. Not to mention, he was stuck there under a seven-year, $41 million contract, which was not representative of the value he brought to the team. He then took a jab at the Cubs’ front office after he left, stating the team wasn’t interested in offering any members of their core extensions.
Nonetheless, the Yankees need a first baseman and a lefty bat heading into 2022, since we can safely assuming Luke Voit will not be here.
Rizzo returning would be logical. He was just here. He clearly was a fit in some capacity — he pretty much maintained the same numbers he had in Chicago during the first half.
But now comes the question of paying the man. What will a new contract for the veteran slugger look like when free agency arrives (or after the lockout is settled)?
Projecting a contract for Anthony Rizzo and the New York Yankees.
This is a tough one. Rizzo made $5-$7 million from 2015-2018 before seeing his salary bumped to $11 million and $16.5 million. And it gets a little more complicated, too, because you have a guy who’s worse than him in Eric Hosmer making $21 million in 2022.
Then again, you have Matt Olson making $12 million and Max Muncy making $13 million, both of whom are way better at this point. Rizzo will be entering his age-32 season with likely his final chance at a payday after that pedestrian contract in Chicago.
How much leverage does Rizzo have, though? During the shortened 2020 he hit .222 with a .755 OPS. Last year, he finished with a .248 average and .783 OPS and had his worst defensive season of his career from a Defensive Runs Saved (-6) and dWAR (-0.7) standpoint.
Then you have another pertinent question for the Yankees. They have Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks under contract for the foreseeable future. We can hopefully bank on Aaron Judge getting an extension rather soon, too. How many players do the Yankees want to be saddled with into their mid- to late-30s? We have to guess the feeling is mutual here, though, because why else would the Yankees make a move for Rizzo at the deadline? Did they really think they would be making a World Series run with him?
To be honest, we don’t see Rizzo accepting anything less than a four-year, $56 million deal, and the Yankees would probably be content coughing that up. $14 million per season puts Rizzo right in the thick of the top-earning first baseman, and it’s nearly more money than he made over just about his entire tenure in Chicago.
Is this too much? Is it not enough? What do you think?