Even in a loaded free agent class, first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s free agent status will be fascinating to watch this winter.
With Freddie Freeman also available and Brandon Belt returning to the Giants, Rizzo is likely the second-best first baseman on the market. He’s a proven left-hand hitting slugger, not to mention a sound defensive player.
Plenty of pundits have made a Rizzo contract prediction, but it’s still too soon to say where he’ll end up. Like many of the great players on the open market this winter, Rizzo could fit well with a lot of teams, making it hard to predict where he’ll end up.
Anthony Rizzo free agent 2021-22
The fact that Rizzo was traded in the middle of last season adds an interesting twist. He now has two former teams and didn’t receive a qualifying offer, so teams won’t lose a draft pick by signing him. That should make him an appealing target for a lot of teams, but let’s try to narrow it down to a handful of the most likely destinations for Rizzo.
Rizzo impressed the Yankees enough down the stretch to make staying in New York a viable option for him. As a left-handed hitter with power, playing half of his games in Yankee Stadium is an ideal situation for Rizzo.
The caveat is that the Yankees already have Luke Voit as an option at first base. When he’s healthy, Voit is one of the best hitters in the lineup, so the Yankees have to ask themselves if they’re comfortable casting him aside in order to re-sign Rizzo. Otherwise, the two are a great match for one another.
The Marlins aren’t usually big spenders in free agency, although Rizzo appears to be on their radar. Rizzo hails from Parkland, Florida, which is just a little north of Miami, so signing with the Marlins would be a homecoming for him, which could entice him to sign with a small-market club.
While Jesus Aguilar is still under contract with the Marlins, if the National League adds the DH as expected, Aguilar can be Miami’s primary DH, opening up a spot for Rizzo to be the team’s everyday first baseman.
One way or another, the Red Sox have to make a decision about first base this winter. Bobby Dalbec is the only incumbent on the roster at that position, but he may not be the long-term answer.
The Red Sox will surely explore their options at first base, putting Rizzo on their radar. If they can lure him away from the rival Yankees, that’ll just sweeten the deal for Boston. But first and foremost, the Red Sox need to add a first baseman this offseason.
Ideally, the Braves would love to re-sign longtime hero Freddie Freeman. But if he proves too expensive to keep, Rizzo would be a more cost-efficient alternative. Atlanta doesn’t have an internal replacement at first base who’s ready to be an everyday player, so the Braves will have to address that position in free agency.
If the Braves don’t sign Freeman, look for them to pivot quickly and focus on Rizzo.
It’s not that farfetched that Rizzo will be back at Wrigley Field next year. The Cubs might have enough money to bring back one of the stars they traded last summer to give them stability during a little bit of a rebuild.
It’s less likely with Frank Schwindel having a strong second half in 2021. But if the DH comes to the National League, anything is possible.
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