Rizzo returns to Yankees on 2-year deal

March 17th, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. -- Anthony Rizzo’s arrival in a July trade helped sharpen the Yankees’ infield defense last season, offering a patient and potent presence in the heart of the lineup. The club is eager for a reprise, signing the first baseman to a two-year deal with a player opt-out after the '22 season.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but it's for $32 million over two years, according to a source.

Rizzo, 32, was among the first basemen in whom the Yankees showed interest this offseason. New York was unwilling to deal top prospect Anthony Volpe for the Athletics’ Matt Olson, who went instead to the Braves.

Last season, Rizzo played in 49 games after being acquired in a July 29 deal with the Cubs, batting .249/.340/.428 (110 OPS+) with seven doubles, eight home runs and 21 RBIs. Including his Chicago statistics, Rizzo hit .248/.344/.440 (111 OPS+) in 141 games last year, with 23 doubles, 22 homers and 61 RBIs.

Rizzo expressed willingness to return to New York during a December appearance on former Cubs teammate Ian Happ’s podcast, saying that he “loved” living on the Upper West Side, where he’d visit Central Park daily to walk his dog, Kevin.

“And then playing baseball for the Yankees, it was a good time,” Rizzo said. “We really enjoyed it.”

Rizzo’s return further clouds the outlook for Luke Voit, whose injury issues last season prompted Rizzo’s acquisition. General manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone recently identified Voit as the club’s starting first baseman, saying that they envisioned DJ LeMahieu bouncing between first base, second base and third base.

Now, Rizzo figures to be the first baseman. If the Yankees stick with third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa on the left side of the infield, they could entertain trading Voit or second baseman Gleyber Torres -- perhaps for a starting pitcher -- to clear playing time for LeMahieu.

A three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Rizzo helped the Cubs win the 2016 World Series. He has batted .268/.369/.481 (127 OPS+) with 251 home runs and 814 RBIs over 11 Major League seasons with the Padres, Cubs and Yankees.