So, where do we go from here? Which lefty slugger with a glove of gold will soon be occupying the slightly-less-hot corner in the Bronx in 2022 and beyond?
Will it be Matt Olson, who’s as good as gone in Oakland with two years remaining on his current deal, and could get traded before the Nov. 19 deadline for adding prospects to your 40-man roster?
Or will it be Anthony Rizzo, who made a spectacular first impression in the Boogie Down before succumbing to COVID a week or so into his tenure, which lowered both his bat speed and our expectations?
According to Rizzo himself, it … doesn’t exactly seem like he’s ready to ditch the pinstripes yet.
This weekend, the first baseman distributed shirts featuring him wearing a Yankees uniform at his annual Walk-Off for Cancer; his dad also rocked a Yankee hat and the entire event was decked out in Bombers balloons and the like.
So … I guess we can ditch the myth that claimed he was “having no fun” in the Bronx, right?
The logical part of our brain knows that Rizzo’s last stop was in New York, and therefore he was unlikely to decorate his event with … what, generic MLB logos? Boras Corp hats? The guy’s a Yankee until proven otherwise — and, obviously, his New Jersey family is going to embrace that.
The illogical part of our brain, though, has Rizzo back this week on a four-year deal.
Rizzo might not be quite as “high upside” as Olson, but he’s just 32 years old and probably won’t be fully hit by the “regression stick” until this next contract expires. He’ll only be signing on for, what, his age 32-35 seasons? Through that time, it’d be reasonable to expect the former All-Star to be less than his apex Cubs form, but 110-115 OPS+ marks with above-average defense seems like an acceptable cornerstone, as long as the rest of the roster is filled out properly.
Signing Rizzo without fully exploring the Olson possibilities would be a mistake, but you can certainly win a title with an aging version of the ex-Cub at first base, as long as he’s got the correct pieces around him. For what it’s worth, Brian Cashman’s post-season comments certainly endorsed the partnership; the feeling is mutual.
Perhaps it’s possible the Yankees are finding even a desperate Oakland’s price too high? Or maybe they’ve chosen to focus their trade assets on plundering Bryan Reynolds from the Pirates, a pursuit that will certainly require the Olson names and more? At the very least, we should all know soon enough — though Rizzo already seems to.