The Yankees won the Anthony Rizzo trade. Here’s why.
1B Anthony Rizzo was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the New York Yankees on Thursday, in exchange for Yankees’ prospects RHP Alexander Vizcaino (NYY No. 9 prospect per @MLBPipeline) and OF Kevin Alcantara (No. 12). Chicago is also paying for the remainder of Rizzo’s 2021 salary.
If that seems like a sweet deal for the Yanks, that’s probably because it is. Though Rizzo is no longer the 3x All-Star, 4x Gold-Glove Award winning-player that he once was, he has still maintained a high level of play this year, supplying solid defense at first along with steady power and discipline at the plate, with 14 homers, a .346 on-base percentage, and a 116 OPS+.
On the Cubs’ end of the deal, it’s surely disappointing to not receive any of the Yankees’ higher-end prospects, much less one of their four in the MLB’s Top 100 prospect rankings list. In his 5-year minor league career, Vizcaino has a career ERA of 4.95, having never pitched a full season with an ERA below 4 across rookie-ball, A-ball, and high-A-ball. Alcantara is faring better, with a .360 batting average and .520 slugging percentage this year in rookie-ball, however only on an 8-game sample size. Of course, there’s potential for breakthrough, but one would think that a free rental of Rizzo’s services for a year would garner a larger return.
Along with the addition of All-Star OF Joey Gallo and slugger Aaron Judge’s return to health, the Yankees lineup will be a force to reckon with as they push for a wild-card spot down the stretch, which they trail the Oakland Athletics for by 3.0 games as of July 29th. The Yankees can either choose to platoon Anthony Rizzo with right-handed power bat Luke Voit, who led the MLB in home runs in last year’s shortened season, or trade the young Voit for starting pitching talent or a reliable late-game reliever.
Either way, the Yankees have certainly improved their chances to push for the playoffs. They still don’t seem to have quite the firepower to push for title contention at this point in time, however, as their drop out of the running for SS Trevor Story indicates that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is willing to let this solid, yet unspectacular team ride out the homestretch.
Meanwhile, for Chicago fans, this year’s trade deadline seems like the final blow to the end of the core that won 2016’s magical World Series title. At 4 games under .500 and 11.0 games back of the division lead, there’s not much hope to be had once Rizzo and fellow All-Star Kris Bryant are gone.