In case they didn’t have enough left-handed hitters, the New York Yankees and Kelly Johnson have agreed to a one-year contract worth around $3 million. The deal is pending a physical.
On Monday, the Yankees officially re-signed Brendan Ryan as a backup plan at shortstop if injuries continue to limit Derek Jeter in 2014. Johnson will serve as the insurance policy at second base and/or third base; second if Robinson Cano signs with another team, and third if Alex Rodriguez is suspended for parts or all of next season.
Signing Johnson does not necessarily mean that Cano has played his last game in pinstripes. The Yankees have clearly been the biggest buyers this offseason after signing Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, and they still have to address holes in the starting rotation. Nevertheless, the organization claims it still has enough money to re-sign its star second baseman and keep next year’s payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold (if they say so). Their current offer is for seven years in the range of $160-175 million.
The deal does, however, mean that Omar Infante will not be playing his home games in the Bronx next year. The Yankees were reportedly interested in the infielder, but Johnson will play the same role (versatile infielder with some outfield experience) at a much cheaper price.
Johnson will be 33 next February. In 118 games with the Tampa Bay Rays this year, he batted .235/.305/.410 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs. Like the other left-handed hitters moving to Yankee Stadium, his power numbers will likely improve thanks to the wiffle-ball dimensions in right field. But with the Yankees’ recent spending spree, they may not need much offense out of him.