Meet the new first baseman, same as the old first baseman. No, not Luke Voit. The other guy.
The New York Yankees made no secrets about being in the first base chase this offseason, finding themselves connected to A’s stud Matt Olson, Braves star Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo, the ex-Cub who had a relatively successful second half in the Bronx in 2021 (when he wasn’t battling off COVID).
Rizzo came to be viewed, somewhat unfairly, as a consolation prize while Yankee fans watched Olson be dealt to Atlanta and Freeman’s chase drag on way too long.
Clearly, the Freeman camp has nearly made their decision, as the Yankees finally budged on Tuesday night at 11:00 PM EST and come to an agreement with Rizzo, their fallback option — and, again, don’t call him that to his face.
Word finally leaked during Freeman’s extended pause that the Yankees had agreed to a contract with Rizzo — reportedly for just two years and $32 million, with a possible opt-out after Year 1.
If so, the Yankees may have gotten a serious bargain, adding a 32-year-old slugging Gold Glover with nearly no commitment attached. And, as recently as 2019, Rizzo was Freeman.
Yankees sign Anthony Rizzo over Freddie Freeman
Rizzo was a marquee acquisition last summer, and though he was stricken with COVID-19 almost immediately, he posted a 110 OPS+ with eight homers (many of them clutch) in 49 games.
His vaccination status also immediately comes into question, considering Tuesday’s discourse was dominated by the bombshell that the 2022 Yankees and Kyrie Irving will likely be subject to the same restrictions.
And then there’s this:
Yes, it’s fair to be disappointed that the Yankees didn’t go as far as they could’ve, repeating a pattern of the most recent three offseasons. We cannot tell you not to feel that way. It’s accurate.
However, Rizzo is an All-Star who’s four years younger than your favorite “regressing” targets. He fit like a glove last year. They simply couldn’t hand the job right back to Luke Voit without making a move of some sort.
Unfortunately, the move is the clear third choice.