Anthony Rizzo declines Yankees qualifying offer as archnemesis Astros target him

Yankees Anthony Rizzo
New York Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo runs the bases to cheers from fans after his home run during the ninth of the team’s baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

First, the Houston Astros took what could have been a championship season from the Yankees, and now they want to take Anthony Rizzo from them too. 

The Astros have identified Rizzo as their No. 1 free agent target at first base, according to The Athletic. Rizzo exercised his opt-out clause in his contract last week and he declined a qualifying offer from the Yankees on Tuesday, which he had until 4 p.m. to make a decision. 

The Yankees had made Rizzo a qualifying offer of one year for $19.65 million.

Houston is also interested in re-signing Yuli Gurriel and going after José Abreu, the report stated. 

Rizzo is one of the more interesting situations right now. The lefty-hitting Rizzo is expected to benefit from the elimination of the shift next season, but it becomes a question of whether there will be more interest this offseason or next. 

Now that the offer has been declined Rizzo will test the market to gauge just where the value is for his services around the majors. Accepting it would have allowed him to remain with the Yankees in the hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium and where he would have been able to make more money on a one-year salary compared to what he would earn for the season on a multi-year deal.

He also would have been able to enter the market without a qualifying offer next offseason. 

The Yankees’ qualifying offer would have been a raise from what he would have earned from the contract he opted out of. Rizzo provided the Yankees what they needed offensively, tying a career-high 32 home runs this season. 

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Rizzo also appeared in 130 of the 162 regular season games for New York and played in all nine of their postseason contests. However, Rizzo has been dealing with back issues throughout the season and was forced to shut down on three different occasions. 

The ball is in Rizzo’s court at the moment, but if he does opt to sign elsewhere the Yankees are at least guaranteed draft pick compensation.