Yankees’ veteran infielder finally healthy and ready to make an impact

anthony rizzo, yankees

The New York Yankees are banking on the contributions of several veteran players for the 2024 season, having successfully offloaded some of their older, less productive talent. A notable departure is 38-year-old Josh Donaldson, which clears the path for DJ LeMahieu to take over the third base position after experiencing a significant upswing in the latter half of the 2023 season.

Rizzo’s Road to Recovery

The Yankees are also placing their hopes on Anthony Rizzo to rebound from a challenging season. The veteran first baseman’s year was marred by a concussion sustained during an early game against the San Diego Padres, a condition that went undiagnosed for months, ultimately cutting his season short.

Rizzo started the season strong, being one of the team’s top hitters in the initial weeks, but his performance dipped to a .244/.328/.378 slash line, including 12 home runs and 41 RBIs across 99 games, effectively making him a league-average hitter. The concussion symptoms, including grogginess and exhaustion, significantly impacted his performance.

However, Rizzo has spent the offseason rehabilitating and has moved past the concussion symptoms, gearing up for a healthy return. “All the head stuff is behind me, thankfully. Had a very normal offseason. It felt very long but excited to be back in camp,” Rizzo shared, indicating his readiness for the upcoming season.

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MLB: New York Yankees at Colorado Rockies, anthony rizzo

The Yankees Need Max Value From Rizzo

Rizzo is approaching the final year of a two-year, $40 million contract, with a 2025 club option looming. His performance in the upcoming season will be pivotal, especially considering his $20 million luxury tax salary and the Yankees’ $17 million option for 2025.

Rizzo’s performance in 2022, which included a 134 wRC+, tying his career-high of 32 home runs, and posting his highest slugging percentage since 2019, sets high expectations for his potential impact.

Beyond his offensive contributions, Rizzo is renowned for his consistent defense at first base and his integral role in the locker room, being one of Aaron Judge’s closest teammates.

As the Yankees look to integrate young talents like Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Austin Wells into their lineup, Rizzo’s experience and leadership will be invaluable. With a clean bill of health entering spring training, Rizzo is poised to make a critical impact on the team’s performance in 2024.

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