Will the Red Sox make a splash before Opening Day? As part of our “free agency fits” series, we’re examining whether several top players remaining on the open market make sense (or don’t make sense) as Boston builds its roster for the 2022 Major League Baseball season.
It’s easy to associate Anthony Rizzo with the Cubs, and rightfully so. The first baseman spent the bulk of his 11 MLB seasons in Chicago, but he was brought up through the Boston Red Sox system.
A sixth-round pick in 2007, Rizzo signed with the Red Sox out of high school and reached as high as Double-A Portland before he was traded to the San Diego Padres as part of the package that brought Adrián González to Boston in 2010.
The rest, as they say, is history. Rizzo is a World Series champion, three-time All-Star and has four Gold Glove awards.
After he was dealt to the New York Yankees at the 2021 trade deadline, is it time to bring Rizzo home to Boston in free agency? Let’s examine.
Position: First baseman
Age: 32 (Aug. 8, 1989)
Weight: 240 pounds
141 games (576 plate appearances)
22 HR, 61 RBIs, 6 SB
1.7 bWAR, 1.6 fWAR
1,406 games (5,992 plate appearances)
251 HR, 814 RBIs, 66 SB
36.8 bWAR, 31.8 fWAR
Why Rizzo makes sense for Red Sox:
Bobby Dalbec came into his own in 2021, his first full season in the bigs. All things considered, he was pretty average, with a 0.8 bWAR and a .240 batting average through 133 appearances. He still managed to come through in big moments at the plate, but his defense left quite a bit to be desired.
Dalbec finished a .988 fielding percentage at first base and committed 11 errors — the latter of which is tied for second for the most at first base in MLB in 2021.
Rizzo, meanwhile, is a four-time Gold Glove award winner who posted a .995 fielding percentage in 2021. If Boston is looking to upgrade at first base, it’s hard to argue with that.
He also isn’t as expensive as other first base options on the market (we’re looking at you, Freddie Freeman.) Spotrac projects his market value at $141.5 million over six years, which works out to $23.6 million annually. His value may not be too much to tarnish the daydream of bringing him to Boston, especially if the Red Sox decide not to shell out elsewhere.
Why Rizzo doesn’t make sense for Red Sox:
Boston was happy to work other players into the mix last season — just ask Kyle Schwarber about that one — but Dalbec is coming into his own entering his third season in the league. Signing any top-tier first baseman all but eradicates Dalbec from the picture. Signing Rizzo — someone who is a proven star but still packs a punch to the payroll in the second phase of their career — comes with some extra consideration.
The Red Sox have to decide now if they see Dalbec as their future at the position, or if they want to find somebody else to hold things down before Triston Casas, one of the organization’s top prospects, is ready to make the jump to the bigs.
Signing Rizzo would force the Red Sox to consider their long-term plans — and possibly change them around.
Verdict: A fit worth exploring.
Prediction: Rizzo returns to the Yankees