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Why the Yankees Were Wise to Re-Sign Anthony Rizzo

The Yankees re-signed Rizzo to a multi-year deal that guarantees him $40 million over at least two more seasons in the Bronx.

The Yankees scored an early offseason win on Tuesday, re-signing Anthony Rizzo to a multi-year contract.

The pact guarantees the 33-year-old first baseman $40 million and at least two more seasons in the Bronx. Rizzo’s new deal comes with a $6 million buyout on a $17 million third-year club option. So he can make as much as $51 million over three years.

While the Yankees would be wise to rethink some parts of their roster this offseason, retaining Rizzo was a smart move after he slashed .224/.338/.480 with 32 home runs and 75 RBI in 2022. Here’s why…

Maintaining Needed Elements

When the Yankees acquired Rizzo from the Cubs in 2021, they were in serious need of a left-handed power bat and defense, traits the club had neglected prior to that summer. Rizzo immediately brought those elements, and the Yankees continued to reap the benefits of them in 2022. Rizzo was a Gold Glove finalist and tied his career-high in homers during his first full season at the lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium.

Room For Improvement

With Major League Baseball restricting the shift moving forward, there will literally be room for Rizzo to improve his offensive output. He made contact 78.7 percent of the time last year, but he pulled the ball 48.1 percent of the time. That led to a lot of scorching ground balls and line drives directly into the shift, as seen below. More of those will be hits in 2023, which should help Rizzo raise his average while giving the Yankees some more offensive opportunities.

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Winning Pedigree and Leadership

Rizzo is the only Yankee under contract with a World Series ring, a fact that shouldn’t go unnoticed on a team that preaches yearly championship aspirations but hasn’t been to or won a Fall Classic since 2009. Rizzo, a curse-breaking Cub in 2016, knows what it takes to get the job done in October, in addition to offering general leadership within New York’s clubhouse.

The Astros Had Interest

The Yankees had already stated their desire to re-sign Rizzo when The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal identified him as the Astros’ top target at first base. Still, keeping him away from the rival reigning champs is an added bonus for the Yankees. New York would have had some other free agent options at first had Rizzo gone to Houston or elsewhere, but none would have fit as well in pinstripes.

A Judge Ally

Aaron Judge isn’t going to base a life-changing decision strictly on where his friends play, but it can’t hurt that he and Rizzo have grown close. Judge is the top free agent on the market and should have more than a few high-rolling suitors after a record-setting season, so the Yankees will take any advantage they can get when it comes to re-signing the superstar outfielder. 

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