Both on and off the field, Anthony Rizzo was a perfect fit in pinstripes from the moment he was acquired by the Yankees at last year's trade deadline.
While New York has been benefitting from the veteran's left-handed presence in their lineup and his leadership in their clubhouse, Rizzo was falling in love with his new home.
That's why Rizzo re-signing with the Yankees on Tuesday didn't come as too much of a surprise, beyond his contractual negotiations after a dip into free agency.
Rizzo always wanted to stick around. It's that simple.
"The main reason I wanted to come back is because I love being a Yankee," Rizzo said on Wednesday in a Zoom call with reporters. "To be in a big market, to be under the bright lights and to have that 24/7 scrutiny is just one of the many things I love about this game."
Rizzo inked a two-year deal worth at least $40 million on Tuesday. The first baseman had previously opted out of his contract with the Yankees, seeking more money and security rather than his scheduled $16 million in 2023.
New York responded with a qualifying offer, a one-year deal worth $19.65 million. It didn't take long before both parties came to an agreement on a two-year pact with a club option for a third season instead. He'll make $17 million for each of the next two campaigns (and in 2025 under his third-year option) with a $6 million buyout following the 2024 season.
"My wife Emily and I really love it here," Rizzo explained. "We love the city, we love the energy, we love Yankee Stadium, we love going to Yankee Stadium and playing in that park every day. So that was really the most important thing. Then you look at the team and the New York Yankees are a team that has consistently put winning products on the field. ... I think with the Yankees in general, there will always be a chance to compete."
Rizzo is coming off a resurgent campaign, showing once again that his swing is tailor-made for the short porch in the Bronx. The 33-year-old tied his career-high with 32 home runs in 2022, producing an .817 OPS, 75 RBI and 77 runs scored over 130 games. He also remains an elite defender, earning a nomination for a Gold Glove at first base despite a slight dip in some of his defensive metrics.
Returning as the only player in New York's clubhouse that has won a World Series, Rizzo knows a thing or two about what it takes to win a ring. The Yankees haven't gotten it done with Rizzo these last two seasons—they haven't been back to the Fall Classic since their last championship in 2009—but the first baseman is eager to run it back for at least the next two. Bringing Rizzo back was the first step for those in pinstripes to get over the hump in the playoffs as well.
"You just have to pitch and play defense, that's really the name of the game and timely hitting," said Rizzo. "Last [season] we did a really good job with that. Obviously we fell short. But in this game, when you give yourself a chance to make the playoffs, to be four games away from the World Series, obviously as a competitor that's all you can ask for. 29 teams this year walked away disappointed and we were one of those 29 It's hard to do that last team standing. I know that from firsthand experience, but we've just got to keep going. This is what we play for."
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