2. Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo is another player who isn’t a definite free agent after 2022, but you bet he’s going to reject his $16 million player option and see what’s out there for him. He has one last “big” contract coming his way and he’s not going to delay it another year after his age-32 season.
With that being said, shouldn’t the Yankees simply … pay him? Look at what he’s done to solidify the first base position after so much turnover the last few years due to injuries and general lack of stability.
And don’t throw the advanced defensive metrics at us as a rebuttal, either. If you’ve watched enough Yankees baseball this year, it’s easy to see Rizzo is a defensive stalwart (regardless of what his -2 Defensive Runs Saved and -0.7 dWAR say …). Whatever those defensive deficiencies are (perhaps not even real?), Rizzo makes up for it with his offense (42 runs scored, 19 homers, 49 RBI, .864 OPS, 148 OPS+ in 66 games).
Then again, there’s a reason to be hesitant here. Rizzo will be entering his age-33 season and there have already been small signs of a decline (drop in average and OBP, increase in strikeouts), though nothing major.
To rebut that, however, Rizzo is as durable as they come. He hardly ever misses time due to injury (he’s played in at least 140 games since becoming a full-time player in 2013). A couple more pluses? He’s a known positive influence in the clubhouse, which provides much-needed off-the-field value. And lastly, the Yankees have nobody to fill the first base void, so they’ll just once again be shopping for a void (zero first base prospects in their top 30).
Might be best to just extend Rizzo for the money he wants for another three years.