The New York Yankees and Brendan Ryan have agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with a player option for a third year. The two sides were close to a deal last week and were merely waiting for Ryan to pass a physical before making the contract official.
Ryan will turn 32-years-old just before the start of next season. He doesn’t bring much of a bat with a career slash line of .237/.299/.320 and only has 19 home runs and 187 RBIs in seven years in the majors. He does, however, bring a glove. In 2013, Fielding Bible ranked him at six Defensive Runs Saved above average. According to this metric, Ryan has saved at least 20 runs above average with his glove in three of the past five seasons. He is widely considered one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
The Yankees’ infield was decimated by injuries in 2013. Kevin Youkils’ season ended on June 13 and Derek Jeter only played in 17 scattered games throughout the year. Alex Rodriguez did not play until August 5, and was physically unable to run after straining his calf and his quad.
Even backups spent significant time on the disabled list. Eduardo Nunez, for instance, was placed on the 60-day DL on May 6. Utility man Jayson Nix too was placed on the 15-day DL on July 2 before suffering a season-ending wrist injury on August 22.
Ryan was brought in at the end of the year after Nunez began making costly errors at shortstop. In just 17 games Ryan bolstered the New York infield, combining with Robinson Cano to form one of the best defensive middle infield in the league. Looking to next year, no one is sure how many games Jeter will be able to play.
He’s overcome adversity too many times in his career to count him out, but the organization has to be ready for anything. By re-signing Ryan, the Yankees have added an insurance policy if Captain Clutch is turned into Captain Crutch again in 2014.