The Yankees had rain today but will put first baseman Anthony Rizzo on the injury list 10 days before tomorrow’s doubles match, per Lindsey Adler from The Athleticbreaking news from manager Aaron Boone. Fellow first baseman Ronald Guzman will have its contract selected in the appropriate steps. Marly Rivera from ESPN first noted that Guzmán was at the Yankee clubhouse. Guzmán is not currently on the 40-man list, which means appropriate steps will be needed to open a place for him there.
The 27-year-old Guzmán spent his entire career with Rangers until this year. From 2018 to 2021, he went into 243 games, hitting 31 home runs in that time but attacking frequently and producing poor batting averages. He’s struck in 28.8% of his career plate appearances so far, well above this year’s MLB average of 22.3%. His overall stroke line is .227/.304/.414, a production which is 16% below the league average, as evidenced by his wRC+ of 84. He was beaten by Rangers at the end of last season and was selected as a free agent.
In March, the Yanks brought Guzmán on a minor league deal, sending him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In 90 games there this year, Guzmán is still attacking 27.6% of the time but he is also running with 11.8% of his plate appearances and adding 12 long balls. In total, he’s cut .260/.357/.466 for the wRC+ 119. He’ll be trying to bring some of those improved results into the majors, with his left-handed bat suitable for short terraces on the right.
The reason the Yankees chose to pick Guzmán was because of the situation surrounding their regular first baseman, Rizzo. Dealing with back problems for most of the season, he didn’t play in a week after undergoing an epidural on Thursday. While it was hoped that this would bring Rizzo greater relief in the long run, he faced some side effects in the short term. Yesterday, manager Aaron Boone told Andy Martino from SNY yesterday Rizzo had a headache after the epidural. In the video shared by SNY on TwitterBoone says headaches now keep Rizzo from playing more than back problems.
Rizzo had a strong season overall but has slumped recently, with a radiating back injury perhaps playing some part in that. As of late July, it hit .228/.348/.504 but only reached .208/.299/.442 since the calendar switched to August. Signing a two-year, $32MM contract in the offseason, Rizzo can opt out of the past year and $16MM this winter and return to free agency if he so desires. With Rizzo out for the past week, DJ LeMahieu have seen most of the time at first. However, LeMahieu needed some time off on his own, with adler broke word from Boone that the infielder was dealing with a toe problem. The club will be hoping Guzmán can step in and help make up for the absence of the damaged Rizzo and LeMahieu. Leading the AL East by 15 1/2 games earlier this year, the Yanks are now only 5 and 5 1/2 games ahead of the Rays and Blue Jays, respectively.
If Rizzo returns to health in a few days, Guzmán cannot easily be sent back to the minors because he is out of options. Since the trading deadline had passed, if the club wanted to remove him from the active roster, they would have to appoint him for assignment and then grant him a waiver. However, if he plays well enough to hold on to his position, he could be retained for the coming season through arbitration.