The Yankees were rained out today but will field a first baseman Antonio Rizzo on the 10-day injured list before tomorrow’s doubleheader, per Lindsey Adler of The Soccer Clubissuing a word from an administrator Aaron Boone. First baseman Ronald Guzmán will have his contract selected in a corresponding move. ESPN’s Marly Rivera first noted that Guzmán was in the Yankees clubhouse. Guzmán is not currently on the 40-man roster, meaning a corresponding move of some sort will be required to make room for him there.
The 27-year-old Guzmán spent his entire career with the Rangers until this year. From 2018 to 2021, he got into 243 games, hitting 31 home runs in that time but striking out often and producing poor batting averages. He has been struck out in 28.8% of his career plate appearances thus far, well above this year’s 22.3% MLB average. His overall batting line is .227/.304/.414, a production that was 16% below league average, as evidenced by his wRC+ of 84. He was promptly waived by the Rangers at the end of last season and elected to free agency.
In March, the Yankees brought Guzmán on a minor league deal, sending him to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In 90 games there this year, Guzmán is still striking out 27.6% of the time but he’s also walked in 11.8% of his plate appearances and added 12 long balls. Overall, he’s slashing .260/.357/.466 for a wRC+ of 119. He’ll try to bring some of those improved results up to the majors, with his left-handed bat making a nice fit for the short porch in. right field
The reason the Yankees chose to bring up Guzmán is due to the situation surrounding their regular first baseman Rizzo. Dealing with back problems for much of the season, he did not play in a week after suffering epidural Thursday. While it is hoped that this will lead to greater relief for Rizzo in the long run, he is dealing with some side effects in the short term. Yesterday, manager Aaron Boone said SNY’s Andy Martino yesterday that Rizzo was dealing with some headaches after the epidural. In a video shared by SNY on TwitterBoone says the headaches are now keeping Rizzo from playing more than the back issue.
Rizzo is having a strong season overall but has declined recently, with the nagging back injury possibly playing some role in that. Through the end of July, he was hitting .228/.348/.504 but has only hit .208/.299/.442 since the calendar flipped to August. Signed to a two-year, $32MM deal in the offseason, Rizzo can opt out of the final one-year, $16MM this winter and return to free agency if he chooses. With Rizzo out of action for the past week, DJ LeMahieu saw most of the time at first. However, LeMahieu needs some free time himself, with Adler relaying word from Boone that the infielder is dealing with a toe issue. The club will be hoping that Guzmán can step in and help make up for the absence of Rizzo and the stricken LeMahieu. Leading the AL East by as much as 15 1/2 games earlier this year, the Yankees are now just 5 and 5 1/2 games ahead of the Rays and Blue Jays, respectively.
If Rizzo recovers in a few days, Guzmán can’t easily be sent back to the minors because he’s out of options. Since the trade deadline has passed, if the club wants to remove him from the active roster, they would have to designate him for assignment and then place him on waivers. However, if he plays well enough to hang onto their roster, he could be retained for future seasons through arbitration.