Less than 24 hours after acquiring Joey Gallo to counter their extremely right-handed heavy lineup, the New York Yankees have spun yet another deal to get more left-handed. The team is acquiring Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs:
The Yankees are moving closer to acquiring Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs. #yankees— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) July 29, 2021
In exchange for Rizzo, the Yankees are sending pitching prospect Alexander Vizcaíno and outfield prospect Kevin Alcantara. I’m not an expert in this area, so I won’t litigate the prospect return too much, but early assessments are that the Cubs did fairly well, while the Yankees were able to avoid touching their very top tier of prospects once again.
For the Yankees, they’ll add the lefty bat and a capable glove to first base. Rizzo isn’t having the best season of his career but still brings plenty to the table in terms of skill set. He doesn’t strike out a lot (under 16 percent), and while he isn’t walking at his normal rate, he’s still doing so enough (9.6 percent) to reach base at a .346 clip. Even if the numbers are largely down across the board, especially regarding power (.198 ISO), that’ll play.
Interestingly, Rizzo has fared much better against left-handed pitching this year than right-handed. His wRC+ against southpaws sits at 161, while he’s been slightly below average against righties, at 98. Historically, though, he’s at a 135 for his career against right-handed pitching and 116 against lefties. So while the splits are far more dramatic this year, he’s always been able to hold his own at the plate, regardless of handedness.
The (lack of) power element is a minor concern, given that his ISO has been sub-.200 in three of the last four seasons, while his Hard% has also declined in each of the last three. Nonetheless, he’s been prone to bouts of streakiness in that area especially in 2021. His ISO is at .292 thus far in the second half, though, which is obviously terrific news for the Yankees. He not only adds another left-handed presence and high-OBP skills for a lineup that sorely needed it, but you’ve got the defense and unquantifiable championship experience as well.
Now the Yankees face a Luke Voit question.
Of course, that pales in comparison to the questions that the Cubs will now face. They now stare down an enormous void both at the position and for the franchise at large. It was Rizzo’s acquisition that really signified the turnaround for this organization, and he represents perhaps the only name to clear out of the dust of their last rebuild. With Rizzo, you obviously have the loss on the field in terms of production, but perhaps more importantly, you have a fanbase that is now rattled with the loss of perhaps their strongest connection to anyone associated with the franchise.
Neither team appears finished, either. For the Yankees, they can turn their acquisition attention to the mound, while the Cubs have made it extremely clear with this move that nobody is safe for the next 24 hours.
Randy Holt is a contributing writer for Beyond the Box Score.