The New York Yankees have signed a well-known aging veteran who can hit left-handed. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Bombers and Brian Roberts have agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million plus incentives. Though Roberts isn’t the most ideal player to replace Robinson Cano, this was actually a good signing by the Yankees.
It was not so long ago that Roberts was one of the best second baseman in the game. The switch-hitter had a phenomenal six-year stretch from 2004-09, during which time he batted .290/.365./.438. He also led the league in doubles twice and stole at least 30 bases four times. Then, injuries derailed his career.
This is the tremendous downside to signing Roberts. Over the past four seasons, the 36 year-old has only played in 192 games. That does not bode well for a team that saw its roster decimated by injuries in 2013.
Still, the Yankees aren’t going to rely on Roberts to lead off and wreak havoc on the base paths like he did with the Baltimore Orioles – that’s what they paid Jacoby Ellsbury for. And they aren’t going to depend on him to drive in 100 runs out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup like his predecessor Cano did – that’s what they paid Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann for. In fact, Roberts will probably bat eighth in the lineup in front of Brett Gardner.
Roberts is not an All-Star anymore, which is fine because the Yankees don’t need him to be one. They also didn’t pay him like one which is why signing him was a good move. First of all, it’s a one-year deal. If it doesn’t work out he’s not going to handcuff the organization like Alex Rodriguez has. Secondly, they only guaranteed him $2 million. With an incentive-laden contract the Yankees are going to get exactly what they pay for, and the low base salary will allow them to pursue another third baseman as insurance if Rodriguez is suspended for 2014.
It seems strange that the Yankees would sign Roberts when they already had Eduardo Nunez and acquired Kelly Johnson and Dean Anna. But of all these infielders, Roberts has the greatest upside by far. If he can stay healthy he’s clearly the best option the Yankees have at second base.
It’s low risk, high reward. After a slew of injuries, Roberts’ career might be all but over, but if he does have anything left in the tank the Yankees are going to get his remaining miles at a bargain.