TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Luke Voit has gone from home run champ to seemingly the odd man out at first base with the New York Yankees.
The Yankees reached agreement with Anthony Rizzo on a $32 million, two-year contract Tuesday night, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. Rizzo would get $16 millio annually and has the right to opt out after this season.
“I know they want to be left-handed.” said Voit, the 2020 AL home run champion whose 2021 seaason was wrecked by injury. “Obviously with our team coming to spring I know we’ve been pretty righty-dominated. It’s a business, I get it.”
A three-time All-Star first baseman, Rizzo was acquired by the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs on July 29. He hit .248 with 22 homers, 61 RBIs and a .783 OPS last season, including .249 with eight homers, 21 RBIs and a .768 OPS in 49 games for New York.
“Someone’s got to come in and fill that spot, and he did do a good job last year,” said Voit, limited to 68 games last year. “My job is to go out and play baseball everyday and not to figure who is playing what position. I’m just going to control what I can control, be positive, go out and work, be there for the guys and just get ready for the season.”
Rizzo and outfielder Joey Gallo, a strikeout-prone left-handed hitter, were New York’s primary acquisitions at last summer’s trade deadline. Before the deals, DJ LeMahieu had been getting significant playing time at first.
“Obviously not only a decorated, great player, but definitely somebody that brings the intangible thing to the table, especially in the (locker) room,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Rizzo,
New York general manager Brian Cashman has been busy since the end of the lockout. The Yankees acquired former AL MVP Josh Donaldson, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and backup catcher Ben Rortvedt from the Minnesota Twins on Sunday for catcher Gary Sánchez and third baseman Gio Urshela.
“This is a championship-caliber team,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said. “I think the trade that Cash made was a great trade. We’re going to miss the guys that moved on, but I think we addressed one or two of the needs we had. But look, this team has got a lot of experience, it’s a veteran team. They got a lot of heart, and I think we’re going to see great things this year.”
With Gleyber Torres set to start at second base, Boone said LeMahieu will get playing time at first, second and third.
BIG APPLE BALL
Steinbrenner said the much-improved Mets are good for New York. In the first full offseason under owner Steven Cohen, the Mets added pitchers Max Scherezer and Chris Bassitt, reliever Adam Ottavimo, outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, and infielder Ecuardo Escobar.
“We’re in different leagues but to a certain extent were rivals,” Steinbrenner said. “I think it’s going to make the summer a lot of fun.”
Steinbrenner doesn’t feel any pressure to match Cohen in spending.
“I think everybody expects that I do, but the answer is no,” Steinbrenner said. “The fact is I can’t control what resources other owners or other teams have and what they’re going to do with those resources. I make the same commitment every year, my family does, which is to do everything we’re able to do to field a championship caliber team and try and win a World Series. I will continue to do everything I’m able to do to accomplish that.”
Steinbrenner has had a couple of lunches with Cohen and said he “seems like a pretty down to earth guy to me.”
Steinbrenner said talks on a long-term deal with outfielder Aaron Judge will begin soon. Judge is eligible for free agency after the season and says he is will to discuss a deal during spring training but not past opening day.
“I think that is a pretty normal thing,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s got things to focus on. Judge is a very special player and a great Yankee.”
The Yankees invited infielder-outfielder Phillip Evans, infielder Ronald Guzmán and outfielder Ryan LaMarre to major league spring training.
“It’s been a long last month. I don’t think I’ve got so little sleep since college is what I’m telling everyone. So, I’m not cut out for that anymore at my age.” — Steinbrenner, 52, on his role on MLB’s labor policy committee.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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