Yankees have big decision to make at first base as free-agency begins

Alexander Wilson
anthony rizzo, yankees

The New York Yankees were recently connected to Oakland Athletics’ first baseman Matt Olson in a potential trade scenario. Whether general manager Brian Cashman acts on the prospective deal is yet to be seen; Oakland is looking to relieve themselves of some bigger salary allocations.

The Yankees have the minor-league talent to acquire Olson, but they have several other routes they can travel down. One involves Anthony Rizzo, who the team traded for at the deadline this past season.

Rizzo played 49 games with the Bombers in 2021, accumulating a .249 average with eight homers and 21 RBIs. He’s one of the better first basemen on the market, and the Yankees have already reached out to his agent to consider bringing him back on an extension.

“Just had a conversation with his agent expressing the possibility of bringing him back,” Cashman said about Rizzo. “He obviously was really good for us, both on the offensive side and on the defensive side and the leadership side. He brings a lot of good things to the table. Now he’s in the open market as a free agent so I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of people talking to him.”

Cashman is hyper-focused on finding the best shortstop available to fit the Yankees’ needs, but don’t rule out a potential deal for a first baseman. Rizzo could be in line to earn upwards of $15 million per season, whereas Olson still has two more years of arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2024. Olson earned just $5 million last year but is in line for a big pay bump in comparison.

Either way, if the Yankees are looking to take a big step forward, adding a premium shortstop and elite solution at first base would undoubtedly give them a good chance at a World Series in 2022. However, retaining Rizzo wouldn’t be a bad idea, considering his lefty bad and dependable defense.

I would be remiss not to mention Luke Voit, who will either be used as trade bait this off-season or serve a reserve/DH role next year.