Anthony Rizzo returned to Yankees

NEW YORK – Anthony Rizzo will keep his Yankees pinstripes for a while and agreed on Tuesday to a two-year contract with a club option for the 2025 season, the club announced. The deal is worth at least $40 million, sources told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, but the team did not disclose terms.

Rizzo’s new pact will net him $34 million over the next two seasons, with a $17 million club option or $6 million buyout for 2025, according to sources.

Rizzo, who turned 33 in August, hit .224/.338/.480 in 130 games this season for the Yankees, his first full New York campaign after being acquired from the Cubs ahead of the 2021 Trade Deadline.

A perfect fit for the inviting right-field porch of Yankee Stadium, Rizzo tied his career with 32 home runs, drove in 75 runs while providing much-needed left-handed balance to the lineup and a reliable gauntlet on the field. first base.

“He’s been everything we could have hoped for,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said recently. “He is a great person in our clubhouse, a great teammate, a great leader, very productive on the pitch. I think [he’s] very cut to play for the Yankees. He handles everything that comes with playing here as one of the premium players and leaders so well.

Rizzo’s park-adjusted OPS+ of 131 placed him among the top 30 qualified hitters in 2022 and made him the second most prolific hitter in a Yankees offense that struggled to find consistency behind Aaron Judge. Rizzo and Judge have developed a close friendship during their time together.

The Astros were also reportedly interested in Rizzo, a career .265 batter over 12 big league seasons who won the World Series with the Cubs in 2016. A three-time Chicago All-Star, he has posted an above-average OPS+ (more than 100) in 11 consecutive seasons, surpassing the 20-homer mark in each of his past nine full seasons (excluding the shortened 2020 campaign).

Rizzo enters 2023 with a career line of .265/.366/.481, needing 17 more home runs to reach the 300 mark. On the defensive side, Rizzo won four NL Gold Glove Awards at first base from 2016 to ’20, but he has posted -5 outs above average since joining the Yankees.

Speaking Tuesday at the MLB owner meetings in New York, Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner indicated that Judge’s free agency would not necessarily deter the club from hiring a free agent like Rizzo.

“Am I going to take any steps before we can, in my opinion, sign Aaron?” Steinbrenner said. “Yeah, that won’t stop me from signing other people. We have to make the moves. It’s about who comes off the board. Some guys will come off the board sooner than others and if it’s someone we think we need then I have to make the decision to keep improving the club and not wait until we find Aaron.”

While Rizzo is back as the starting first baseman, the rest of the Yankees infield could change for Opening Day. Josh Donaldson is expected to return as a third baseman, with Steinbrenner praising both the veteran’s defense and a work ethic he says is “unparalleled.”

Steinbrenner expressed concern for DJ LeMahieu’s health as a result of a persistent toe injury to his right foot that undermined his productivity and availability in the second half of the season.

“It’s not a usual injury,” said Steinbrenner. “It is not normal that we see every year in every team. I don’t know enough about it. We have not been told the operation is out. The question is, how long after surgery? Weren’t there.”

“As far as the young children — [Oswaldo] Cabrera included, who was a big surprise when he came forward — we’re going with young kids,” Steinbrenner said. “Some experienced players would like to see that, because I have spoken to them.”

MLB.com’s Betelhem Ashame and Andrew Simon contributed to this story

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