Thanks to Ben Rice, Has Anthony Rizzo Played His Last Game in Pinstripes?

Anthony Rizzo has been the Yankees' first baseman for three years now. His time in pinstripes has been a hit-and-miss. Now that Ben Rice has been contributing, has Rizzo's time as a Yankee come to an end?
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees / New York Yankees/GettyImages

Anthony Rizzo has been a great player during his time. That would include helping the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2016. Rizzo created such a buzz that the Yankees would trade two prospects and cash for the Florida native in 2021. 

Although the former gold glove has not been the All-Star caliber player the Yankees needed, Rizzo provided just enough to keep his spot until now. The older you get, the chances your performances won’t be the same. In his four years as a Yankees, Rizzo averaged a .233 for batting while collecting 297 hits. Rizzo maintains a .223 batting average while collecting 59 hits in 264 at-bats.

There were many questions about why the Yankees re-signed Rizzo, especially when he is currently 34 years old and his production for the 2024 season is not where you needed to be.   

 After getting injured in June with an arm fracture, the Yankees pivoted and called up Ben Rice, who can play both catcher and first base. Being a left-handed batter and younger, has the Yankees found a replacement for Rizzo? Ben Rice started off the 2024 season in double-A playing for the Somerset Patriots. After 49 games and collecting a .261 average, he was promoted to AAA where he played for Scranton/Wilkess-Barre Railriders. 

Although Rice played in 11 games, he contributed with a .333 batting average. In 50 plate appearances, he collected three home runs, ten RBIs, and 14 hits. He made such a statement that, when Rizzo went down, they selected him to back up first. What most didn't expect was how much he contributed to the Pinstripes in such little time. 

Where many expected DJ LeMahieu to take over at first base until Rizzo came back, but he is currently at third base, where Ben Rice is at first, while also taking over the lead-off spot. In 18 games, he has 15 hits and four home runs, while cultivating a .273 batting average. He cemented his start with his historic day against the Red Sox. 

That day gives hope that there is a left-handed hitter who is good at hitting southpaw pitchers. Rice is patient at the plate but his defense is improving bit by bit. If he is off to a start like this, imagine what he can do when he is consistent. His performances leave Rizzo expandable.

Although Rizzo can be a free agent at the end of the year, the Yankees have a team option they can use. The best option is to trade Rizzo when he comes back for some prospects or for some help in the bullpen. Regardless, Rice has given fans some hope of what the second half of the season can look like. 

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