Yankees to place Anthony Rizzo on IL, select Ronald Guzmán

The Yankees were watered down today but will place the first baseman Anthony Rizo on the 10-day disabled list before tomorrow’s doubleheader, per Lindsey Adler of The Athleticrelaying the word of the director Aaron Boon. First Baseman Friend Ronald Guzman will have his contract selected on a corresponding move. ESPN’s Marly Rivera first noted that Guzmán was in the Yankee clubhouse. Guzmán is not currently on the 40-man roster, which means a corresponding move will be needed to open up a spot for him there.

Guzmán, 27, has spent his entire career with Rangers until this year. From 2018 to 2021, he played in 243 games, hitting 31 homers during that span, but hitting often and producing poor batting averages. He’s been knocked out in 28.8 percent of his career plate appearances so far, well above MLB’s 22.3 percent average this year. His overall batting line is .227/.304/.414, a production 16% below the league average, as evidenced by his wRC+ of 84. He was squarely beaten by Rangers at the end of last season and elected free agency.

In March, the Yanks brought Guzmán aboard a minor league deal, sending him to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. In 90 games there this year, Guzmán still hits 27.6% of the time, but he also scored 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 to the majors, with his left-handed bat perfectly suited to the short right field porch.

The reason the Yankees chose to bring in Guzmán was because of the situation surrounding their regular first baseman Rizzo. Struggling with back problems for much of the season, he hasn’t played for a week after undergoing an epidural on Thursday. Although it is hoped that this will bring greater relief to Rizzo in the long run, he does face some short term side effects. Yesterday manager Aaron Boone said SNY’s Andy Martino yesterday that Rizzo was suffering from some headaches after the epidural. In a video shared by SNY on TwitterBoone says the headaches are now preventing Rizzo from playing more than the core issue.

Rizzo is having a good season overall but has crumbled recently with the creeping back injury possibly playing a part in that. Until the end of July it was at 0.228/0.348/0.504 but has only reached 0.208/0.299/0.442 since the calendar shifted to August. Signed to a two-year, $32 million deal this offseason, Rizzo can opt out of senior year and $16 million this winter and return to free agency if he chooses. With Rizzo out of action last week, DJ LeMahieu saw mostly early. However, LeMahieu needs time off, with Adler relaying word from Boone that the infielder is struggling with a toe problem. The club hopes Guzmán can step in and help make up for the absence of Rizzo and a stoned LeMahieu. Leading the AL East by no less than 15½ games earlier this year, the Yanks are now just 5 and 5½ games ahead of the Rays and Blue Jays, respectively.

If Rizzo regains his health in a few days, Guzmán cannot easily be sent back to the minors as he has no options left. Since the trade deadline has passed, if the club wishes to remove him from the active roster, they will need to nominate him for assignment and then put him on waiver. However, if he plays well enough to keep his roster spot, he could be retained for future seasons by arbitration.

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