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#pounditSaturday, December 3, 2022

Astros have strong interest in stealing slugger from Yankees

Dusty Baker smiling

Jan 30, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Dusty Baker speaks after being announced as the Houston Astros manager during a press conference at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were unable to keep pace with the Houston Astros in the ALCS this year, and the defending World Series champions may try to further the gap between the two teams by going after one of New York’s best players this winter.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros have identified Antonio Rizzo as one of their top free-agent targets this offseason. They also have the option of re-signing Yuli Gurriel and could take a look at Jose Abreu, but signing Rizzo would give Houston another big bat and potentially make the Yankees weaker.

Rizzo has received a qualifying offer from the Yankees. If he accepts it, he would make around $20 million next season. Rosenthal notes that the 33-year-old may not get that much on the open market in terms of average annual value. Rizzo could opt to gamble on himself and spend another season hitting in Yankee Stadium with the new shift rules before becoming a free agent next offseason.

Rizzo hit just .224 in 130 games for New York this season, but he matched his career high with 32 home runs. Like many other power hitters, his numbers should improve when the new shift rules take effect. Houston will probably have to make a hefty offer to convince him to turn down the Yankees.

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