Anthony Rizzo Signing: Reaction
By Andy Singer
Photo Credit: Wendell Cruz, USA TODAY SPORTS
Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. I had originally planned a post about new Yankee catcher (and owner of the most impressive arms on the Yankees, an impressive feat) Ben Rortvedt this morning, but then the Yankees went and signed Anthony Rizzo late last night, so I think it’s important to sort through that deal before we evaluate all of the other newcomers. I fully expected Rizzo to sign following the trade for Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa, and Rortvedt, though I will say that Rizzo’s $16 million AAV is more than I thought he’d get. Let’s dig into what this move means for the Yankees:
Luke Voit Is Done As A Yankee
Sad, but true. I love Luke Voit, and fully expect him to be healthier in 2022, which will lead him to mash at the plate again, but I don’t think he fits the roster right now. Sure, the Yanks could get him first base at-bats against left-handed pitching and DH at-bats on days that Stanton plays the outfield, but given Voit’s lack of defensive versatility, that’s probably not enough to make him a valuable bench piece the other 65-70% of the time. It seems like the prudent thing to do for the Yankees to trade Luke Voit, even with diminished trade value.
I’ll miss the LUUUUUUUUUUUUKKKKKKKKKEEEEEEEEEE chants, and will be happy to root for him from afar.
More Deals Coming?
I still think the Yankees have one or two more deals up their sleeve. Catcher is an obvious upgrade spot. The Yankees could go for a blockbuster, as I wrote yesterday about acquiring Sean Murphy, though that acquisition cost will be very steep, and I’m not sure Cashman will have an appetite for the cost. However, there are some players who could be pried away that make a lot of sense for the Yankees.
The Mariners have been hunting for low-cost offense, and Luke Voit fits the bill. Luis Torrens has been sneaky good with the bat since his recall on June 15th last season. While the Mariners used him at catcher, DH, and 3B, I could see the Yankees using him as the offensively superior half of a platoon with Ben Rortvedt, while giving him time at DH and 3B. I wrote extensively about Torrens as a target a couple of months back. It makes a ton of sense, and I’m not sure Torrens has a ton of value on the trade market given his up and down history.
The Mariners want their top prospect, Cal Raleigh, to share the catching duties with defensive stalwart, Tom Muprhy behind the dish. The Mariners need a lot more pop in their lineup, and Voit could fit the bill. The Mariners are one of the few teams who might value Voit as a deal’s centerpiece.
Bringing Rizzo back does two things: balances the lineup against right-handed pitching and improve team defense significantly. It was brutal watching the Yankee infield at times last season, but I think we can legitimately say that the Yankees have a good infield defense now, with at least average defenders at all spots, if we project Gleyber to get back to who he was a few seasons ago defensively.
The other thing this lineup has is significant flexibility. DJ LeMahieu could easily get 500+ ABs even without clearing an infielder from the deck as a platoon partner with Rizzo at 1B (whose OPS is almost .100 points lower against left-handed pitching), spelling Donaldson at 3B when he’ll inevitably need rest, and getting at-bats at DH and 2B. I wanted to see DJ LeMahieu in the super utility role he was originally signed to play, and now the Yankees have the pieces in place to allow that to happen.
The Yankees can also play the jumbo lineup in the outfield once or twice per week, which will open up the DH spot for Donaldson and others that need it on a more consistent basis. The whispers are that the Yankees plan to play Stanton in the outfield with greater frequency this season, so Aaron Hicks becomes a 450-500 AB player in a perfect world.
I am not the biggest Rizzo fan, as all of you know, but he does enable the lineup to be more flexible. For a lineup that has lacked flexibility in recent seasons, this is a great thing.
I don’t think the Yankees are done adding to the offense, but even if they are, this lineup is much better and more balanced than the one we saw last season. With Rizzo in the fold, the Yankees are 8-10 wins better, depending on the projection system you like the best. That’s a win in my book.
Rizzo is not my favorite player, but he makes a ton of sense for this roster at a reasonable price on a short term deal. I really want to see a move at catcher to finish the puzzle, but we’ll have to wait and see.