Anthony Rizzo is staying in the Bronx as the Bombers made their first big move of the offseason.
The first baseman is re-signing with the Yankees on a two-year deal worth $34 million, according to multiple reports. The contract includes a club option for 2025. If the Yankees pick that up, they’ll pay him $17 million. If they do not, Rizzo receives a $6 million buyout.
The move comes on the heels of Rizzo exercising his player option at the conclusion of 2022. Had he opted in, he would have made $16 million in 2023, so the $17 million he stands to make is a financial raise. Rizzo also turned down the Yankees’ $19.65 million qualifying offer to instead test the open market. After agreeing to this deal, it’s clear that Rizzo wanted more stability than just a one-year pact, even if that would have paid him a bit more.
Rizzo, who was a key component to the Bombers’ lineup because of his lefty bat, was one of the bright spots in the Bronx. During the 2022 season, he slashed .224/.338/.480 and recorded an OPS of .817. Among the team’s qualified hitters, Rizzo was the Yankees’ second-best behind Aaron Judge in many statistical categories, including home runs, slugging percentage and wRC+. Now that he’s back in pinstripes, it’s almost certain that Rizzo’s 300th career home run will come with the Yankees. He needs just 17 more to reach the threshold. Playing in Yankee Stadium fits Rizzo’s swing very well, as the left-hander has already walloped 22 dingers in Yankee Stadium since being traded over from the Cubs at the 2021 trade deadline. Nineteen of his 32 homers last season were at home.
Rizzo’s re-signing comes days after reports stated that the World Series champion Houston Astros had the first baseman at the top of their free agent list this winter. Getting him back not only prevents the Yankees’ main competition from improving their roster, it also serves as a wonderful starting point for the team’s offseason. Locking Rizzo up removes any uncertainty about who the first baseman will be next season, allows the Yankees to shift their focus to other players and potentially helps them court Judge back to the Big Apple.
During the 2022 postseason, his first extended one with the Yankees, Rizzo slashed a robust .276/.432/.552 and cranked two home runs in nine games while driving in eight runs. The 33-year-old has played in 49 postseason games and helped the Cubs win the World Series in 2016. His presence both on the field and in the clubhouse gives the Yankees an air of veteran leadership and a voice that can speak from big-game experience. Over the course of his decorated career, Rizzo has made three All-Star teams, won a Silver Slugger and finished in the top ten of MVP voting three times.
Defensively, Rizzo is still considered one of the game’s best first basemen as well, even if the advanced numbers don’t love what they see anymore. He was named a finalist for the American League’s Gold Glove award at first base but ultimately lost to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. If Rizzo starts on Opening Day 2023, it will mark the first time since 2015 and 2016 that the Yankees start the same player at first base on Opening Day in back-to-back seasons. Mark Teixeira was the last person to do that, and between his and Rizzo’s tenure, the position was a revolving door that churned through Greg Bird, Luke Voit, Tyler Austin, Jay Bruce and a host of other forgotten names.