Yankees’ $20 million infielder is primed for a big 2024 season

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have made significant improvements to their offense during this off-season with the acquisitions of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo. While these trades have added depth to the roster, the team is also relying on the resurgence of veteran players who battled injuries in 2023.

Stanton’s Transformation:

Giancarlo Stanton’s return to peak performance remains a tantalizing prospect. Although expecting him to hit 40+ homers may be a stretch, Stanton has undergone a physical transformation, shedding weight and enhancing his athleticism. These changes could play a crucial role in keeping him healthy and finding his rhythm once more.

Rizzo’s Road to Recovery:

Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees’ starting first baseman, faced a setback in 2023 when he suffered a concussion during a game against the San Diego Padres. Prior to the injury, Rizzo was one of the team’s top offensive contributors, boasting impressive stats with a .304/.376/.505 batting line over 53 games. However, the concussion took a toll, and his numbers plummeted to .172/.271/.225 over 46 games post-injury. Fortunately, Rizzo has been cleared for baseball activities, erasing concerns about his concussion. Can he bounce back in 2024?

The Value of Rizzo to the Yankees

If Anthony Rizzo can replicate his pre-injury form, the Yankees stand to gain substantial value from their two-year, $40 million deal with him, which includes a 2025 option at $25 million.

Rizzo’s 2022 season, where he hit .224/.338/.480 with 32 homers and 75 RBIs, may not seem spectacular on paper, but a 134 wRC+ suggests he was 34% better than the average MLB hitter that season. Beyond his offensive contributions, Rizzo offers reliable defense at first base and a consistent left-handed bat.

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Balancing the Lineup:

With the addition of Soto, the Yankees’ lineup now boasts an array of intimidating hitters. Rizzo is expected to slot into the 5th spot behind Stanton, who is likely to start batting cleanup. Rizzo’s presence in the middle of the lineup provides the Yankees with versatility and strength, addressing the balance issues they faced in 2023.

The 2024 season holds great promise for the Yankees’ offense. As Giancarlo Stanton strives for a resurgence and Anthony Rizzo aims to put his injury behind him, the team is poised to field a lineup that can deliver results. With a more balanced batting order and the addition of Soto, the Yankees are gearing up for a successful season that should see Rizzo’s impact once again become evident.