Yankees’ veteran first baseman gearing up for a big bounce-back 2024

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The Yankees know that their offense has the capacity to be something truly special with the additions of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo this off-season. However, if they get bounce-back performances from several key players, things could be even better.

Rizzo’s Recovery and Spring Performance

Of course, many will pointed Giancarlo Stanton as a catalyst in the batting order, and he’s already seeming to put together more proficient at bats compared to his 2023 comfort.

However, one of the other critical pieces is veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo’s 2023 season was prematurely finished after he was diagnosed with a concussion months after symptoms started showing themselves.

Rizzo was dealing with fatigue and exhaustion but couldn’t pinpoint exactly where it was coming from. Once the Yankees figured out it was after being kneed in the head by Fernando Tatís Jr., they immediately stopped baseball operations for their first baseman.

Impactful Returns and Future Decisions

Fortunately, Rizzo is fully healthy and recovered from the concussion, spending the last few months rehabilitating and going through his process. Fortunately, all of that hard work seems to be paying off right about now, launching two homers on Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays. Rizzo collected five RBIs and also walked once, bringing his spring training stats to an impressive .429/.600/1.429.

“Not that I’m a superhero, but I feel like I got some superpowers back,” Rizzo said. “To see the ball the right way again, I just feel like I can do damage.”

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Yankees’ Offseason Enhancements and Bounce-Back Hopes

Rizzo started off the 2023 season red hot, but the concussion completely derailed his focus and capabilities. The Yankees are hoping to get back the version that hit 32 homers in 2022 and posted a 134 wRC+, indicating he was 34% better than the average MLB hitter. They know he can be one of their most prominent and impactful players, and given the comfort batting behind Aaron Judge and Soto, he’s primed for a big bounce back year.

“It starts with whoever is leading off. Soto having 0-2 to 3-2 at-bats, Judge doing what he does. It’s very, very comfortable. I’ve hit behind Judge pretty much since I’ve been here, so there’s a comfort hitting behind him. Now with Soto in front of him, it’s just a whole other layer of an at-bat.”

Rizzo is in the final year of a two-year, $40 million deal, earning $20 million for the upcoming season. The Yankees do have a 2025 club option that would count $17 million in luxury tax salary, so unless they identify an alternative, it is possible they bring back Rizzo for his age 35 campaign.

With that being said, the Yankees also have to make some big decisions on Gleyber Torres, Soto, and Verdugo in free agency. The future is certainly going to be expensive, but the Yankees have the roster this season to make a big push for a championship, and that will be the primary focus.

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