Are the Yankees planning to replace Rizzo with this backstop?

Ben Rice went 2-4 with a home run in his Triple-A debut.

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In a significant development for the New York Yankees, their potential future player for the first base or position, Ben Rice, took a significant stride toward the Bronx. The organization announced Rice’s promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday.

This move comes as Rice has swiftly progressed through three minor league levels over the past two seasons, culminating in his 2024 performance at Double-A Somerset, where the Yankees prospect maintained a .261/.382/.511 batting line, with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

Despite Rice’s recent commendation for his performance behind the plate during Gerrit Cole’s rehab outing on Tuesday, his defensive skills as a catcher are reportedly below average. Baseball America has assigned his catching ability a 40 rating on the 20-80 scale, indicating it’s improbable for him to secure a full-time catcher role at the major league level. Throughout his minor league career, The Yankees prospect has diversified his positions, featuring in 17 of his 49 games at first base this season and 18 times in 2023. Additionally, he has served as the designated hitter on 10 occasions this season.

Yankees' prospect Ben Rice celebrates after hitting back-to-back homers in the opening game for AA Somerset on April 5, 2024.

With the 2025 season approaching, the 25-year-old prospect could potentially emerge as the starting first baseman for the Yankees. Anthony Rizzo‘s performance has been subpar, with an 84 OPS+, a .236 batting average, seven home runs, and 25 RBIs. It’s anticipated that the Yankees will decline his $17 million club option for the following season. Owner Hal Steinbrenner recently expressed a desire to trim the team’s payroll from its current $300 million, indicating a shift towards providing opportunities to younger and more economical players like Rice. These financial adjustments are deemed crucial as the team pursues a long-term contract with Juan Soto.

Rice holds the 14th position among the Yankees‘ prospects according to Baseball America and ranks 12th according to MLB Pipeline.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

One thought on “Are the Yankees planning to replace Rizzo with this backstop?

  1. Rice isn’t the best defender at either C or 1B, but his lefty bat would play in YS. And I think there is more defensively at 1B with more reps, and he could handle the occasional trip behind the plate.

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