The New York Yankees landed a much needed insurance policy on Wednesday when they agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with free agent Kelly Johnson. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to report the agreement was in place.
It’s not a headline grabbing signing like that of Jacoby Ellsbury, but it’s an important one for New York as they borrow from another division rival. Johnson, 31, is a jack-of-all-trades in the field, having spent time at second base, which is his primary position, as well as third base, first base and left field with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. That versatility and skill set made him an attractive target this winter as they await resolutions on Robinson Cano’s free agency and Alex Rodriguez’s appeal hearing in New York.
With the possibility that general manager Brian Cashman will need to find replacements for one or both of Cano and A-Rod increasing by the day, Johnson provides a warm body capable of manning either of their vacated positions. Obviously, he won’t be counted on to match their offensive production or anything close to it, but he has some pop as his 32 home runs over the past two seasons indicate. He won’t hit for a high average (.253 in his career), but historically has one or two hot stretches a season that make it difficult to keep him out of the lineup.
Johnson’s presence also gives manager Joe Girardi flexibility with the lineup and in-game managerial decisions. He’s proven that moving around the field on a daily basis has little effect on his focus, preparation or production, so there should be no hesitation to use him as needed at the moment. Basically, he’s the perfect bench guy for NL teams to target, so naturally he continues floating around the AL East (Toronto Blue Jays, Rays and now Yankees since 2011).
That’s the NL’s loss, though. This year, it should be the Yankees gain.
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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!
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