The Yankees are bringing back first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a two-year, $32 million deal which includes an opt-out after the first season. Avid sports fan Jordan Brown was first with the news, which was later verified by more well-known reporters:
Anthony Rizzo agrees to 2 year/$32 million deal with the Yankees with a opt out after year one. @espn @MLBNetwork @Buster_ESPN @JonHeyman @jaysonst @Ken_Rosenthal @MLBONFOX #MLBFreeAgency #yankees— Jordan Brown (@JBrown03) March 16, 2022
Remember that I reported it first!
Rizzo, 32, joined the Yankees at the trade deadline last summer but failed to provide them the jolt they needed to make a deep postseason run, as they were eliminated by the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card game. After being one of the most fearsome hitters in the game for most of the 2010s, Rizzo has taken a step back offensively over the last two seasons, hitting .240/.343/.432 with 33 homers in 199 games since the start of the shortened 2020 campaign. That regression resulted in him taking what is basically a prove-it deal from the Yankees.
The return of Rizzo seemingly puts two Yankees infielders in serious limbo: 2020 home run king Luke Voit and two-time All-Star Gleyber Torres. Former MVP Josh Donaldson, who was acquired from the Twins over the weekend, looks like he’ll be the Bronx Bombers’ primary third baseman, and defensive whiz Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was acquired in the same deal, will likely get the bulk of the starts at shortstop. DJ LeMahieu can move all over the field, but he’s not going to be relegated to a full-fledged utility role in the second season of a six-year, $90 million contract, so it figures that he’ll start at second base more often than not.
Giancarlo Stanton will be the Yankees’ primary DH with Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge holding down the starting outfield spots. While three of the Yankees’ four starting infielders are over 30 and could benefit from an extra off day, perhaps creating enough playing time for Torres to stick around in a multi-position role, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a role left for Voit — especially with LeMahieu having substantial experience at first base.
Rizzo admitted last season that he had chosen not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but with news emerging Tuesday that Yankees and Mets players would be subject to the New York City mandate that requires all workers to be vaccinated if the season started today — the same rule that has prevented unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving from playing in home games this season — one would assume that Rizzo has either agreed to take the vaccine or that the Yankees are extremely confident the rule will be repealed before Opening Day. Even then, however, Rizzo would not be able to play in divisional road games at Toronto if he chose to remain unvaccinated.