July 21, 2024

The New York Yankees could attempt to improve their infield at the trade deadline. Specifically, the club may be trying to upgrade at first. Anthony Rizzo has struggled in 2024, with few prospects of a rebound. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden recommended Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as a trade candidate to replace Rizzo at first base.

The Toronto Blue Jays are 33-35 and three games behind the third wild card slot in the American League. They may become sellers by the deadline, but there is no assurance.

“The Yankees will monitor the right side of their infield between now and the trade deadline with hopes that both first baseman Anthony Rizzo and second baseman Gleyber Torres start producing at a higher rate,” stated Bowden. “If they don’t, the Yankees will consider trade options. Impact players such as Pete Alonso or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may become available at first base depending on which teams withdraw from the race, whether certain players sign contract extensions, and other circumstances.

Rizzo’s Future With the Yankees

This season, Rizzo has a.221 batting average and a slugging percentage of.332. The 34-year-old is an important part of the Yankees’ clubhouse. He got a two-year contract for $40 million in 2022. He has a $6 million buyout on a $17 million club option for 2025.

Rizzo’s future depends not just on his performance, but also on the Yankees’ payroll problems and pursuit of Juan Soto.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner called the Yankees’ $300 million payroll as “not sustainable” during the owners meetings on May 22.

“I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially,” Steinbrenner remarked, according to the New York Post. “It wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay.”

Rizzo may be a casualty in the chase of Soto if the club also wants to cut money. If Steinbrenner had not been worried with the $300 million salary, the Yankees could have paid everyone.

“Because the Yankees appear to be committed to saving money wherever they can, Rizzo may become a casualty of the team’s Soto pursuit,” wrote The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner while breaking down the Yankees’ budget.

Guerrero is an Upgrade from Rizzo

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wins record $19.9 million in salary arbitration  against Toronto Blue Jays | AP News

 

Guerrero is a three-time All-Star, Gold Glove Award recipient, and Silver Slugger. He won his arbitration hearing before of the 2024 season. His $19.9 million salary was the largest ever awarded in a hearing-based lawsuit. Guerrero will not be less expensive than Rizzo. However, he is still arbitration eligible and will not be a free agent until 2026.

The Blue Jays may choose to move their stars at the deadline in order to build for the future.

“I don’t think they’re opposed to it,” an unnamed executive told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. “They’ve spoken with teams about it. The requests were outrageous, but I believe they will try to retool a lot, and employing those folks to collect components may be one method to do it.”

Guerrero has a.281 batting average and a.778 OPS. The Yankees’ objective this offseason will be to keep Juan Soto in the Bronx. However, if Rizzo isn’t producing enough, the Yankees may consider trading for a guy such as Guerrero. They could trade Guerrero in the winter if they don’t want to pay him, which would interfere with their hopes to keep Soto.

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