The Yankees and Anthony Rizzo have agreed to reunite for a two-year deal with a $40 million guarantee. That will come in the form of a $17 million salary in 2023 and 2024, followed by a $17 million club option for 2025 with a $6 million buyout.
Rizzo, 33, spent many years with the Cubs, a key part of the club’s core that broke the 108-year curse by winning the 2016 World Series. From 2014 to 2019, he was remarkably consistent and prolific, hitting between 27 and 32 home runs in each of those six years. His wRC+ was always between 126 and 155, indicating that he was between 26% and 55% above the league average at the plate. His wins over replacement score ranged between 3.2 and 5.3 in each of those campaigns, according to FanGraphs.
The next two seasons saw Rizzo slip somewhat from those great heights, though he was still a strong performer. In the abbreviated 2020 campaign, he hit .222/.342/.414 for a wRC+ of 103. The next year, which included a midseason deal with the Yankees, was .248/.344/.440 and a wRC+ of 113 .
Despite the slight downturn, he was still above average at the plate and is widely regarded as a solid defender at first base. He was ineligible for a qualifying bid due to the mid-season trade. He and the Yankees agreed to a deal that would keep him in the Bronx, with Rizzo making $32 million over two years, though he could forgo the senior year and $16 million salary.
Despite dealing with several ailments in 2022, he ended up having a nice bounceback campaign. His 32 home runs tied a career high and his batting line of .224/.338/.480 amounted to a wRC+ of 132. Based on that strong performance, he activated his opt-out and returned to free agency at look for a bigger deal. . It is also speculated that the upcoming ban on aggressive defensive shifts will help him, as his left-handed bat and slow speed make him particularly vulnerable to it. The Yankees offered him a qualifying offer of $19.65 million, which he could have accepted and pocketed a small increase in his expected salary. But it seemed he had other suitors, with the Astros being a club known to have an interest in him.
3pm Central time today was the deadline for players to accept or decline eligible offers, with Rizzo among the 12 declining, though reports surfaced shortly after that he and the Yankees had agreed to a longer pact. Rizzo returns to his post at first base making $17 million a year, so very close to the QO, but thanks to the buyout, he actually has an AAV up his sleeve. His $40 million guarantee over two years comes out just a little ahead of the two years and $36 million projected by MLBTR.
By getting Rizzo to put pen to paper, the Yanks prevented a major bat from leaving on the loose. Of course, Rizzo is only the second most important player in this camp, where all eyes are on Aaron Judge and whether the Yanks can convince him to stay. With Rizzo’s contract on the books, the club’s payroll for 2023 now stands at around $207 million according to Roster Resource’s estimate. Last year, they opened the season with $246 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, leaving them with about $40 million before catching up on that difference. Of course, if they’re willing to increase their spending beyond last year’s levels, they should have even more to work with.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported that Rizzo and the Yanks had reunited on a multi-year deal. Andy Martino from SNY passed the two-year framework plus a club option for the first time. Jack Curry from YES Network was the first on the dollars.
Source citation USA Today Sports.