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Anthony Rizzo Gives Yankees Another Lefty Bat, Defensive Upgrade

Hours after finalizing the Joey Gallo trade, the Yankees swung a deal for the Cubs first baseman. A lineup that was void of impact lefties and strong defenders suddenly has two new ones.

The Yankees pulled off another blockbuster Thursday, this time acquiring Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs.

The first baseman cost New York two prospects: pitcher Alexander Vizcaíno and outfielder Kevin Alcántara. The right-handed Vizcaíno, 24, has not pitched above High-A. He was New York’s 12th-best prospect, per Baseball America’s midseason rankings. The 19-year-old Alcántara was ranked 14th.

Chicago will pay the remainder of Rizzo’s 2021 salary, according to the YES Network’s Jack Curry. A free agent at the end of the season, Rizzo is a rental, but the 31-year-old could make a big impact on New York in a brief period.

Yankees Acquire Anthony Rizzo From Chicago Cubs

Another Left-Handed Bat

First the Yankees traded for Joey Gallo. Now Rizzo is on the way. Just like that, a team void of impact lefty bats now has two.

New York’s struggles from the left side of the plate were outlined a bit more here, but to recap: the team wasn’t getting any production in that department despite playing in a stadium designed for port-side hitters. Incumbent Yankees lefties have combined for just 22 home runs, and it wasn’t like they were contributing in terms of contact or getting on base, either.

Gallo, meanwhile, has 25 home runs himself this season and leads the majors in BB%. Joining him is Rizzo, the owner of 14 long balls. The two finally give the Yankees lefties who are capable of feasting on the short right field porch in the Bronx.

Rizzo adds a .248/.346/.446 slash line and 115 wRC+. Those numbers are less than what he’s done over the course of his career, but they are lightyears ahead of what the Yankees were getting from the left-handed hitters already on the roster.

Defensive Upgrade

With Luke Voit either on the move or demoted to a reserve/platoon role once healthy, Rizzo gives the Yankees another defensive upgrade after adding Gallo.

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Rizzo is a four-time Gold Glove winner, including three straight, and no first baseman has more Outs Above Average (7) or runs prevented (5). Some of Rizzo’s other defensive metrics, like DRS (-2) and (-0.8) have taken a hit this season, but he has typically posted strong numbers in those departments.

Either way, his defensive presence will also allow DJ LeMahieu to move back to second base while relegating the streaky hitting and poor fielding Rougned Odor to the bench.

Winning Pedigree

This is more of an intangible thing, but Rizzo is an experienced winner at the big league level.

He’s only a .205 hitter across 39 playoff games and four postseasons, but he does have six October home runs to go along with his 2016 championship ring. Rizzo vastly outperformed his career postseason average during that curse-breaking World Series, going 9-25 with a home run and five RBI on the biggest possible stage.

All that experience will be important as the Yankees try to climb out of a third-place hole before a potential postseason run.

Tax-Friendly

Last but not least, there’s the Competitive Balance Tax. For such purposes, Rizzo has about $5.5 million left in salary this year, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. But, like the Rangers with Joey Gallo and Joely Rodríguez, the Cubs are going to take care of that remaining money.

That gives New York about $4 million to work with before hitting the $210 million CBT threshold, per the YES Network. The Yankees would incur costly penalties if their payroll surpassed that figure, but they still have room to make more moves before Friday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. 

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