The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins connected on a big trade Sunday evening, putting the team’s infield plans in flux. Taking on Josh Donaldson and the $50 million remaining on his contract doesn’t leave the Yankees with much money to spend unless they’re going to push behind the luxury tax threshold.
Donaldson will hold down third base with Gio Urshela being included in the deal, but they also acquired Isaiah Kiner-Falefa to fill their shortstop void. The Yankees will have two years of control left on Falefa’s contract, and they expect him to present solid defensive capabilities and good contact hitting in the middle of their order.
It is quite clear that Falefa was their primary target in the trade, consuming the contract of Donaldson and acquiring a reserve catcher in the process. However, that still leaves the first base position wide open, despite Luke Voit being available on the roster.
Rumors have indicated that general manager Brian Cashman is intrigued by Freddie Freeman, but it seems as if the Atlanta Braves star will choose a West Coast-based team, staying close to home. That leaves two options for the Yankees, trading for Oakland Athletics star first baseman Matt Olson or retaining Anthony Rizzo on a contract extension.
According to John Heyman of MLB Netwerk, Rizzo making a return is realistic at this point.
Yankees see Anthony Rizzo as the realistic good first base option now, and will try to make that work. Their expectation, as is the case with most, all along has been that the Freeman sweepstakes is between the Braves and Dodgers.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 14, 2022
Rizzo finished last season, hitting a combined .248 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs. With the Yankees, he hit .249 with eight homers, recording a 14% strikeout rate and 8.0% walk rate.
Given his lefty batting stance, Rizzo could post lucrative numbers in Yankee Stadium next season if retained, but they could also make a move for Olson, who features another power bat at a much younger age. Rizzo is currently 32 years old but is still hitting quite well. His batting average is down significantly from 2019, but he still contains plenty of power to help smooth over first base for the Bombers.
Ultimately, it depends if Cashman is willing to give up big-name prospects to acquire Olson in a prospective trade. They will have to give up one of their shortstops climbing the system, most likely Oswald Peraza, keeping Anthony Volpe until he’s ready to make the jump in 2023.