Yankees Could Struggle to Replace Anthony Rizzo at the Deadline

Anthony Rizzo

Getty Anthony Rizzo of the New York Yankees

The New York Yankees, even with their success this year, have needs.

One glaring concern has been first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s production, but, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, it may not be easy to replace Rizzo at the July 30 trade deadline, citing his salary and clubhouse stature.

Still, Rizzo — who was out of the lineup on June 9 and 10 — is performing even worse than third baseman Josh Donaldson was in 2023 when they released in him August, according to Rosenthal.

“Rizzo is more important to the clubhouse than Donaldson was, and he is particularly close with Aaron Judge,” Rosenthal wrote on June 10. “He also is owed about $10 million in salary plus a $6 million buyout, while Donaldson was owed slightly less than $4 million. So, the Yankees are not ready to give up on him just yet.”

Available Replacement Options Don’t Make Sense for the Yankees

Rosenthal wrote that several potentially available first basemen on the trade market don’t make sense for one reason or another.

“The Yankees probably would not displace Rizzo for the Marlins’ Josh Bell, the first baseman most likely to be traded,” wrote Rosenthal. “A crosstown deal for the Mets’ Pete Alonso would invite a fan rebellion at Citi Field. The Rays and Blue Jays likewise would be reluctant to trade Yandy Diaz and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. within the division when each is under club control beyond this season.”

Adding a player like Bell would mean Rizzo goes to the bench.

The Yankees could also look internally. DJ LeMahieu started at first base during Rizzo’s absence from the lineup.

Rizzo has a .244 batting average this season and just a .623 OPS. The 34-year-old also had a down year last year but was dealing with an injury.

Last season, Rizzo hit just .244 after dealing with an injury for most of the season. In 2023, Rizzo was diagnosed with “post-concussion syndrome, which the club believes stems from a May 28 collision with the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr.,” according to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch in an August 3 story.

Rizzo’s Future

Rizzo’s future not only hinges on his production but also the Yankees’ payroll concerns and pursuit of Juan Soto.

The Yankees’ $300 million payroll was described as “not sustainable” by owner Hal Steinbrenner during the owners meetings on May 22.

“I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially,” Steinbrenner said, according to the New York Post. “It wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay.”

Rizzo may become a casualty in the pursuit of Soto if the club also wants to reduce payroll. If Steinbrenner had not been concerned about the $300 million payroll the Yankees could pay everyone.

“Because the Yankees seem committed to saving money in spots they can, Rizzo may become a casualty of the team’s Soto pursuit,” The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner wrote while breaking down the Yankees’ payroll.

Soto should and will be the Yankees’ top priority this winter. Rizzo may simply not be in the cards for the Yankees in 2025 regardless of if he turns things around.

Even if Rizzo gets the bat going again “everything this offseason needs to be seen through the lens of Soto. If the Yankees think saving money at first base and shifting it to Soto is a bigger priority, then all bets are off,” wrote The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty.

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