Anthony Rizzo returns to the Bronx

Wendell Cruz USA Today Sports

While Aaron Judge And the Anthony Rizzo Both are official I rejected their qualified offers On Tuesday, the Yankees held the latter though. The team has agreed terms with the 33-year-old first baseman — New York’s second-best hitter this season, after the big man — on a two-year, $40 million contract that contains a club option for a third year.


This is the second time in a row that Rizzo and the Yankees have agreed to a two-year deal, but the bells and whistles have changed. Acquired in a final 2021 trade with the Cubs, he re-signed with the Yankees once the lockout expired in March via a two-year, $32 million deal that guaranteed him $16 million each year and contained an opt-out after 2022. He exercises after a solid performance. Extremely. This time, he’s guaranteed $40 million, through $17 million in salaries for this year and next plus a $6 million buy-in on a $17 million club option for 2025.

Although Rizzo would have gotten a raise by only accepting the qualifying offer of $19.65 million, it didn’t hurt his case earlier this week, the athleteKen Rosenthal mentioned that the Astros have identified him as their top target at first base. Yuli Gurel He filled in for Houston for the past three years, but is now a 38-year-old free agent coming off a minor alternate season (85 wRC+, -0.9 WAR). The idea of ​​upgrading the world champions by taking a piece of the team they swept from the ALCS probably didn’t sit well in the Bronx, especially given the market where the top remaining replacement was the 36-year-old right. Jose Abreu, which is less suitable for the Yankees lineup. More on that below.

Rizzo is coming off his strongest offensive season since 2019, having batted 0.224/.338/.480 for 132 wRC+, the latest of which represents a 19-point improvement over his 2021 showing and is three points higher than his career mark. He fared better than that most of the season, hitting .227/.347/.511 (143 wRC+) through August 3 before being sidelined for a week due to back spasms. He’s tackled the .214/.308/.385 (100 wRC+) line along the way, missing another 17 days in September due to more back problems that required an epidural.

Rizzo’s late-season decline and absence was ill-timed given that several other Yankees besides Judge also battled, with many missing time due to injuries. However, he ranked second to Judge in wRC+ among team regulars and was one of New York’s few hitters in the postseason, hitting .276/.432/.552 with two homers and eight RBI.

Through his ups and downs, Rizzo gave the Yankees something they’ve been sorely lacking in recent years: a left-handed power hitter. His 32 tackles, which match his career highs, are the most by a Yankees lefty since 2012, when Curtis Granerson hit 43 f Robinson Canon 33. No Yankees lefties have hit more than 15 in 2021, and only one has been over 20 in 18 (Didi Gregory with 27) and ’19 (Brett Gardner with 28). While Yankee Stadium certainly favors left power due to its dimensions (314 feet down the right field line and 385 feet to right of center, compared to 399 feet to left center and 318 to left), the team’s home totals have recently been greatly boosted thanks to a propensity for right fielders such as the judge , Giancarlo StantonAnd the DJ LimahieuAnd the Jaliber Torres to go the other way.

Rizzo hit 19 home runs at Yankee Stadium this year, 16 of them towards the shortstop in right field, but he wasn’t a product of home cooking; He produced 125 wRC+ on the road to go with a mark of 139 at home. Although he wasn’t one to light Statcast, he hit a high hit rate (10.9%, after consecutive seasons around his career mark of 7.8%) and finished in an blink of doing so via a hard hit rate (40.7%).

As for his low batting average, he owed a lot to making turnovers. Rizzo’s 40 wRC+ in such turnovers was the 10th lowest mark among left-handed hitters with at least 150 PA:

Left-handed hitters with the lowest in the WRC+ versus hedge turnovers

Minimum 150 board appearances with balls in play against fortification spells. * = hitter key; Totals are for left hands only.

As a result, Rizzo produced a . 216 batting average on balls while playing, the second-lowest mark for the AL. With the new rule for 2023 effectively banning turnover, he should recover some of those lost hits, though it’s unlikely that many of them will be; 247 batting average for the upcoming season, and Steamer is hitting a 0.241 mark.

Although he had withdrawn from his previous contract, it seemed more likely that Rizzo would not return. Although he’s no longer playing at the level that earned him three consecutive All-Star appearances from 2014-2016 and three consecutive Gold Gloves from 18-20 (he had -3 DRS and -2 RAA this year but made it to the finals despite that), He was a great fit for the Yankees not only as a left hander but also within their club. as such the athleteChris Kirchner pointed out“,”[Judge] and Rizzo become close, with the latter seen as the club’s unofficial co-captain.” While this is unlikely to be the deciding factor when the judge decides whether or not to return, it can’t hurt.

Furthermore, the raw base free agent market is thin; hitter switch Josh Bell And the Brandon belt They are the only other notable bats that could have helped balance a lineup that didn’t have a left-hander. Neither Bell nor Belt matched a WRC+ and 2.4 WAR this year, with the former producing 123 wRC+ and 2.0 WAR, and the latter 96 WRC+ and 0 WAR in his injury-marred fourth season out of six. Chastity aside, Abru is the only one Free agent, first baseman Which is expected to be more productive than Rizzo, and its Steamer drop of 2.4 WAR isn’t much more than Rizzo’s 2.1.

Courtesy of Dan Szymbourski, here’s Rizzo ZiPS’ rendering of the next three seasons. It’s significantly more optimistic than Steamer:

ZiPS Presentation – Anthony Rizzo

year BA OBP SLG AB s h 2b 3 b HR RBI BB So SB + Dr war
2023 .247 .353 .451 457 70 113 22 1 23 70 54 94 5 122 1 2.5
2024 .245 .352 .439 421 63 103 20 1 20 61 50 89 4 119 1 2.1
2025 .239 .345 .417 381 54 91 18 1 16 52 44 83 4 112 1 1.5

For reasons of space, Rizzo’s pitching bid wasn’t even on the table, but he’s averaged 21 annually over the past six seasons even including the pandemic-shortened season and projects for 22 here (one shy of 2021 and 22 totals), so 536 PA. On a proportional basis, ZiPS expects it to be 28% more productive than Steamer.

The ZiPS contract estimate for the above forecast is two years and $35 million or three years and $46 million; Our List of Top 50 Free ProxiesBen Clemens estimated another two-year deal, $32 million, and our crowdsourcing averaged three years and $54 million. This $6 million acquisition for 2025 is a nice premium over the guaranteed portion of the deal, reflecting the Yankees’ apparent desire to keep Rizzo.

Here’s how the drop percentages are shaken out:

2023 ZiPS Pedigree Presentation – Anthony Rizzo

percentage 2b HR BA OBP SLG OPS+ war
95% 31 34 .293 .394 .548 157 4.7
90% 28 31 .283 .385 .523 146 4.2
80% 26 28 .270 .372 .498 139 3.6
70% 25 26 .263 .365 .486 134 3.3
60% 23 24 .253 .358 .471 128 2.9
50% 22 23 .247 .353 .451 122 2.5
40% 21 22 .241 .346 .435 117 2.2
30% 19 20 .232 .338 .422 112 1.9
20% 18 18 .225 .331 .404 105 1.3
10% 16 16 .212 .317 .381 95 0.6
5% 14 13 .202 .307 .357 85 0.0

While it’s unlikely that Rizzo will regain his All-Star form, this is still very solid ground, especially with LeMahieu around to fill in; Even if he only hits his 30th percentile drop, the Yankees will likely get above-average production from the position.

That the Yankees locked up Rizzo so quickly is an indication that they will take an aggressive approach this winter after failing to reach the World Series for the 13th straight season. Owner Hal Steinbrenner wasn’t shy about addressing the elephant in the room at owners’ meetings on Tuesday, saying of the judge, “I totally conveyed that I want him to be a Yankee for the rest of his life…he knows the rest is up to him and his family and where they want to go from here, but we’ll do what We can. I can assure you.” More, via Kirshner:

“Honestly, my budget for Judge is going to be what it’s going to be and what I feel like we can do,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s not infinite, obviously… In my opinion we’ll be able to sign Aaron. That won’t stop me from signing other people. Some players are going to get off the board sooner than others, and if there’s someone we need or feel we need Then I have to make a decision to keep improving the club and not to back down until we discover Aaron.”

Judge aside, the Yankees especially need to tackle the left side of their home turf, where Josh Donaldson And the Isiah Keener Valeva The disappointments were on the offensive side, and as general manager Brian Cashman, who still works without a contract but doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, Shown This possibility is higher Anthony Volpe He is a candidate for a short-term job. They will also need to fill the vacated turnover spot Jameson TellonFree Agency (Return Possible) and to enhance the database that extended in October as well. With Rizzo back, they quickly check off one important item from their winter shopping list. We’ll see what’s next.

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