The New York Yankees have made contact with Kelly Johnson, a utility man who has experience playing in the AL East (for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012, and the Tampa Bay Rays last year). This is just one of the many players the Yanks have been linked to this offseason, but his name is not as well known as the others they have reached out to.
He has played the majority of his career at second base, but does have some minor experience at third as well, which illustrates the fact that the Yanks are still uncertain of their infield’s immediate future. It is worth noting that Johnson also has played 132 games in the outfield, but zeroing in on him is rationalized by the combination of Alex Rodriguez’s looming suspension and Robinson Cano’s massive contract expectations.
The Yankees team president, Randy Levine, said the team has “plans B, C and D” if the organization can’t re-sign Cano. Even though Johnson is a left-handed batter with some power, which is always a plus in Yankee Stadium, he is at best a D+ replacement. He would be a great option off the bench, but a brutal overall replacement for one of the most talented players in all of baseball.
Johnson has only played 16 games at third in his career and wouldn’t be a viable alternative for A-Rod, even with Rodriguez’s injury problems and declining production.
The good news is that Johnson is just another name that the Yankees have put in their pool of options, and it doesn’t hurt to put out a feeler. What would be detrimental to the organization is if Johnson actually ends up being a starter for the storied franchise. The Rays and Blue Jays can afford to start players like Johnson for the majority of a season, but those teams don’t have the expectations, the deep pockets and the allure of the New York Yankees.