Anthony Rizzo re-signs with the Yankees
One of the big questions for the Red Sox’ biggest rival for this offseason was to figure out their first base situation. After basically giving up on Luke Voit last season, they pretty clearly weren’t going to go back to that well, making them one of the biggest players looking for help at the cold corner. Rumors had them connected to two of the biggest names on that market in Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson, so it likely registers as at least some degree of disappointment to their fans that they went a tier below that. Instead, they are re-signing Anthony Rizzo to a two-year deal.
Rizzo, who of course is a former Red Sox farm hand, is certainly a good player even if he’s not at the same level as the other two superstar first baseman who are/were available. Making his name as a Cub, the lefty is also a bit past his prime and is more fine than great at this point in his career. Last season, Rizzo hit .248/.344/.440 for a 112 wRC+, and his performance was basically equal before and after getting to the Yankees in a deadline deal. He should be playing first base on a mostly everyday basis, making Voit a potential trade candidate or a right-handed bat off the bench.
Why Red Sox fans should care: As mentioned, there was a real chance that the Yankees were going to add an elite bat to their lineup in Olson or Freeman, so this has to qualify as a win for the Red Sox even with Rizzo being a fine player in his own right. Boston has its own work to do, of course, but when a division rival seems likely to get a dynamic talent and then doesn’t, that has to be considered a win.
Braves extend Matt Olson for eight years
We talked a bit about Olson in that last section, but we know he had already been off the market by the time Rizzo signed, with Olson being traded to the Braves on Monday as the defending champs moved on from Freeman. Now, they’ve decided that Olson is not going anywhere, locking him up to a long-term deal. Olson will be remaining in Atlanta on an eight-year deal worth $168 million.
It kind of felt inevitable that this would end up happening after that big deal. Olson had two more years of team control, but the Braves wanted to make sure they had the hometown first baseman locked up longer than that to keep a core together with him alongside Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies, among others. Olson is coming off a huge year in which he cut way down on strikeouts en route to a 140 wRC+. He’s had enough good years and is coming off a great enough one that this feels like a big steal for the Braves, even with two more years before he was set to hit the open market.
Why Red Sox fans should care: Any time a big extension is signed, it is another data point for comparison with a Devers extension. If this is what it takes to get this kind of deal done, do it now. I don’t think that’s the case, though. This really feels like an outlier and a hometown discount, and while it’s now part of the market I’m not really convinced it’s a fair marker for something like a Devers extension.
Braves sign Collin McHugh to a one-year deal
That Olson extension wasn’t the only move being made by Atlanta on Tuesday, as they bolstered their bullpen with one of the best available options as well. The Braves announced that they were signing right-handed pitcher Collin McHugh to a two-year deal worth a total of $10 million guaranteed. There is a team option for a third year.
This really feels like another big win for the Braves, who get a big-time pitcher coming off a huge year out of the bullpen for a relatively small amount of money. Tossing 64 innings with the Rays last season, McHugh pitched to a 1.55 ERA with a 2.12 ERA, and while the numbers have never been that good he has always excelled in a relief role. He gives Atlanta a much-needed righty for their late inning situations as their top two relievers had both been lefties.
Why Red Sox fans should care: The Red Sox should be looking for a late-inning righty as well, and this feels like a deal they should have been in on. We don’t know what else goes into negotiations and what other considerations beyond money a player is taking, but from the outside and just seeing the financials, it’s hard not to be frustrated by this not being beaten. Of course, there are other options out there so we’ll see what else Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox may or may not have up their sleeve.
- The Rangers signed Brad Miller to a one-year major-league deal. The veteran is better served in corners now, but he can play second base as well in a pinch and is still an above-average hitter, particularly against righties.
- The Cubs signed Chris Martin to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He’s not a late-inning reliever at this point, but he’s solid depth for the middle innings. That said, his strikeout rate did dip last year so that will be something to watch.
- Dodgers re-sign Jimmy Nelson to a one-year deal with a team option for 2023. There’s a lot of upside here for L.A., but he won’t be ready until the end of this season at the earliest after undergoing Tommy John last August.