Brian Roberts‘ best years are undoubtedly behind him. The 36-year-old second baseman has not played more than 60 games since 2010; he has lacked the ability to hit for extra bases, and has failed to hit over .250 in the past three years. Despite all of these negatives, the New York Yankees are excited to add Roberts to the roster.
At this point in his career, Roberts can not be expected to be the Yankees’ everyday second baseman. What Roberts brings to the Bronx is depth and experience. With Alex Rodriguez‘s situation still to be determined, Robinson Cano gone, and Mark Texiera and Derek Jeter coming off of injury-riddled seasons, the Yankees’ infield needs plenty of depth in 2014.
With Roberts now on the roster, manager Joe Girardi has much more flexibility with his defensive lineups. Roberts at second allows Girardi to move Kelly Johnson to third if A-Rod doesn’t play, or to short if Jeter needs a rest. If Roberts needs a rest, Johnson moves over to second and Mark Reynolds (if re-signed) can fill in at third. There is also Eduardo Nunez as an emergency option if multiple starters are out of the lineup. The Yankees’ infielders are aging, and the probability of every player taking the field for all 162 games is slim. Therefore, the more options the better for Girardi and the Yankees in 2014.
Roberts is a .278 career hitter who has averaged more than 40 doubles a season throughout his career. Although it is unlikely that Roberts is going to hit more than 40 doubles in 2014, it is not unreasonable to expect Roberts’ average to increase while being in a Yankees lineup surrounded by stars. Not only is he going to see better pitches to hit, but he is going to have more opportunities to drive in runs than he did during his time with the Baltimore Orioles.
By no means is Roberts a seamless transition from Cano. However, the Yankees are a better team with Roberts on the roster than without him. After multiple injury-plagued seasons in Baltimore, the veteran second baseman has a chance to resurrect his career in the Bronx.