November 15 was a relatively busy day in the world of MLB, as it is the deadline for teams to protect prospects prior to the Rule 5 Draft and for players who were given qualifying offers to either reject or accept. A number of signings have already taken place, with one involving the New York Yankees.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo has reportedly signed a two-year deal to remain in the Bronx. Per ESPN, the deal will see Rizzo make $34 million over the next two seasons. Additionally, the Yankees will retain a $17 million club option for Rizzo in 2025.
Why it makes sense?
For the Yankees, the move makes all the sense in the world. Besides the fact that Anthony Rizzo plays a solid first base, the veteran infielder wields a powerful left-handed bat that can make great use of the hitter-friendly dimensions of Yankee Stadium. Since the start of the 2020 season, Rizzo ranks seventh among all first baseman in home runs (66), and has gotten base at an impressive .341 clip over that time span.
There weren’t many other first base options that fit well for the Yankees as much as Rizzo did. This is partly why it made sense for the Astros to reportedly be interested in the former World Series champion, as taking him away from New York could check two boxes in one move. Nonetheless, the Yankees were able to keep Rizzo in the fold for at least the next two seasons.
What else do the Yankees need to do?
The job for the Yankees this offseason, though, is far from done. As a matter of fact, it really has only just begun. Obviously, reigning Hank Aaron winner and probable AL MVP Aaron Judge must be brought back into the fold in order for the Yankees to content for a World Series title next season. On top of that, it would also behoove the Yankees to bring in another left-handed bat, preferably one that can play the outfield. The Yanks received very little production from left-handed hitters in general in 2022, including Joey Gallo.
Could someone like Jesse Winker make sense? Sure, Winker had a very rough opening act in Seattle, batting only .219 and producing a negative WAR (-0.3). The former Red is also a questionable fielder, but should that really matter? Over the past three seasons, Winker is 11th among batters (min. 650 PA) in on-base percentage (.370). Despite Winker not hitting well in 2022, the 28-year old did get on base at a clip of .344. Plus, Winker’s power bat from the left-handed site could certainly benefit from the dimensions in Yankee Stadium.
It might not be easy to get Winker off the hands of an AL foe like Seattle, but the Mariners outfielder is just one option that could be open for the Yanks this winter. However, that all really takes a backseat for now with the pursuit to keep Aaron Judge. If the Yankees do retain him, he will be re-joined with first baseman Anthony Rizzo.