Astros Have Identified Anthony Rizzo as No. 1 Target at 1B

Anthony Rizzo opted out of the final year of his Yankees contract, forfeiting $16 million in the process, but he’s guaranteed $3.65 million more than that via qualifying offer and could net an even bigger prize as a free agent. It’s not a foregone conclusion that he’ll be earning that money in New York, however, according to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Among a series of hot stove bullets was a note that the Astros have prioritized Rizzo as their primary target at first base. Houston could bring back Yuli Gurriel for his age-39 season in the hopes that he’ll bounce back from a rough 2022 performance, though that would be more of a last resort. They have also considered José Abreu, per Rosenthal.

Rizzo would serve the dual purpose of upgrading the Astros’ roster with another left-handed bat and better defense at first while also weakening the Yankees’ lineup, hence bumping him to the top spot on their wish list. Houston may have to pay a premium beyond just QO penalties to make that happen, as Rizzo will need to be convinced to leave the cozy confines of Yankee Stadium and that short porch in right. Between the lefty-friendly dimensions — which also exist in division rivals Boston and Tampa — and new shift restrictions, Rizzo is in a good spot.

Even if the Yankees don’t pony up with a longer deal, which they likely would if the Astros are serious, Rizzo could bet on himself again and take the bigger payday in ’23. The QO will pay him more next year than he’s likely to score with a new deal, after which he can hit the market again with no penalties. Of course, he’s going to have to perform well enough to merit a sizable deal.

This doesn’t have much to do with the Cubs because Rizzo was never coming back anyway, though having another potential Abreu suitor out of the mix could impact Jed Hoyer’s offseason planning.

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