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Report: Yankees sign Johnson to DH

Dec 17, 2009, 7:32 PM EDT

According to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, free agent Nick Johnson will return to where he began his career and sign a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Yankees.
It seems like quite a bargain, though Johnson isn’t necessarily any better of a bet for the Yankees than Hideki Matsui would have been. Johnson can still play the field pretty well, but the Yankees won’t need him there and will make him a full-time DH instead. The signing goes against the reasoning used against re-signing Matsui: the Yankees wanted to go with a revolving door at DH to give their older regulars more time off. However, Johnson will do some sitting against left-handers and he’s likely to miss some time over the course of the year.
For fantasy purposes, Johnson just went from fringe property to potential stud. The Yankees wanted him largely because of his annual .400 OBP, but he could also be good for 20 homers with the short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium and he’s a significantly better bet to stay healthy as a DH. If the Yankees fail to re-sign Johnny Damon, Johnson would be a better option in the two-hole in the lineup than fellow newcomer Curtis Granderson. No, he doesn’t have much speed, but the Yankees don’t need their No. 2 hitter stealing bases with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez up anyway.

  1. Mark Runsvold - Dec 17, 2009 at 8:34 PM

    Johnson’s got four-win upside with his bat alone and can reasonably expected to contribute two or three wins as a DH. This seems like a steal, but I really have no idea how to price the injury risk he brings. In any event, the Yankees offense next year is going to be disgustingly good.

  2. CDC - Dec 17, 2009 at 9:34 PM

    Geez I’m sorry to see this report. That’s 5.5M that could have gone to Holliday. This does not make the team stronger. I hope he doesn’t get injured. Just my humble opinion.

  3. Tony Troiano - Dec 17, 2009 at 10:11 PM

    Nice move. His OBP is good, he’s still young, left side of the plate in Yankee Stadium, and the team can still rotate who fills that position in the lineup. Also, maybe this lessens the inclination to sign Damon with Johnson able to fill the number two spot. I’m a Damon fan, but no way he gets three or four years, and if I’m Cashman two is too much. He’s aging and little aches and pains creeped in last season. He’s limited in the outfield, remember when Hairston went in for him in the postseason game with runners on for a stronger arm? With Johnson and a rotation at DH we save money too.

  4. willmose - Dec 17, 2009 at 10:25 PM

    Off the subject, but isn’t A-Rod suppose to have hip surgery this winter? I haven’t heard anything about it.

  5. sacksjacked - Dec 17, 2009 at 11:09 PM

    No additional surgery for A-Rod’s hip

  6. GEZinAZ - Dec 18, 2009 at 12:09 AM

    We (I say that like I really have an effect in what happens with the Yankees – I don’t) just signed Granderson. We don’t need anymore offense. That cash should have gone to shore up the bullpen. We need great pitching!

  7. Kevin - Dec 18, 2009 at 1:03 AM


  8. Alan - Dec 18, 2009 at 2:18 AM

    Welcome back Nick! It’s nice to see you back in pinstripes. Now we go for #28.

  9. Various_Authors - Dec 18, 2009 at 5:54 AM

    I just don’t see the upside in bringing back someone from the bad years.

  10. Yankees? C'mon! - Dec 18, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    Can someone please solve one of lifes biggest mysteries for me?! I mean, I actually understand reletivity to some degree, but what I can’t understand is how so many people can be such OVER THE TOP Yankee fans, AND so unforgiving ones at that when the curtain is down, with ALL THAT MONEY paying for it?! Might as well buy the umps off. Guess this way it looks legal and no conscience to worry about. “You Guys” should be winning EVERY TIME with that kind of money spent. Tell me please, how is it you can be so PROUD? I would be embarrassed if it were “My Team”. What happens here and the following this team has sums up one of the worst things about the human condition. Seriously. Sleep on it. If you’re saying “WTF”, then you’re one of the problems with the degridation of humanity!

  11. Dr. Phil - Dec 18, 2009 at 6:41 AM

    Get help.

  12. Yankees? C'mon - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:02 AM

    Dr. Phil???!!!!! Sounds like you need help. Really?! Do you have use a post name such as that? I’d laugh, but it isn’t funny. Yankees make me cringe, fans even more so. You just don’t get it cause it’s over your heads or you don’t care to. Let me ask you this: What if the Rays did the same thing Yankees ownership did and always will and has. You wouldn’t be just as disillusioned? Over your head this whole point? Probably. And that’s a large part of the problem too. So sad. Truly.

  13. Ben - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    I think this is a good move. Johnson has a high OBP and makes contact a lot of the time. Tex and Arod will almost always have someone on base ahead of them because of Jeter and Johnson’s OBP.
    The Yanks are in a similar position the Sox were in 4 years ago. While it was wrong to low-ball Damon in his low-thirties, a contract taking him through his late-thirties is a bonus for any player. I’d be happy for Johnny if he got 3 years, it just won’t be from the Yankees.
    I don’t know why I haven’t heard his name, but Marlon Byrd would fit well with the Yanks. He’s strong defensively and bats right handed, which could offset Granderson’s potential struggle with lefties. They should offer an incentive based contract to Sheets or Duscherer as the last piece.

  14. Ben - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:17 AM

    Until MLB makes a salary cap, what the Yankees are doing is legal. They pay luxury taxes and revenue sharing because of the size of their payroll. The Sox and Phils just went out and gave huge contracts this winter as well. Both of those teams are well over $100 million in payroll. You have to spend money to get the big time players. It’s a vicious cycle where players values have become inflated to a ridiculous extent over the past 15 years. But in the end, the Yankees have not done anything illegal. As long as they abide by league rules and regulations they are fine.
    As for you attacking the fans, well that is just a waste of time. There are idiotic fans all over the world. The Yankees don’t have a monopoly on them. If you think that then I really feel sorry for you.

  15. DiamondDuq - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:20 AM

    I beg to differ. If you believe the reports, it’s actually $7.5 million that isn’t going to Damon and could, potentially, go to Holliday. Though I think any deal Holliday gets, even the one currently offered by the Cardinals, will be overpaying him, which isn’t to say I wouldn’t want to see the Yankees pull the trigger at the 6 years for $105-$115 million range.
    Regarding Johnson, I think this is a great move for the Yankees. I never thought the Yanks should have gotten rid of Johnson in the first place and now, as a DH, he’ll be less apt to get injured and be able to focus just on his hitting. He’s capable of the numbers A-Rod put up last year, granted A-Rod missed a month, .286 BA 30 HR 100 RBI out of the DH spot. While I don’t think these are the numbers he’ll put up in 2010, he’ll probably be closer to 20 HR and 80 RBI, but hitting ahead of Tex and A-Rod will have him seeing an awful lot of fastballs.

  16. NY4EVR - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:28 AM

    Jealously is a powerful thing. $chaching$
    I’ll call you a whambulence.

  17. Montanaman - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:30 AM

    I would actually be embarrassed if my favorite team’s owner didn’t spend the money earned back into the business. There are owners that have more money that George does, but they put it in their pocket. Is it buying a championship? Name a team that didn’t “buy” their championship. Every team buys their championships just like they buy their losses. By the way – you do realize that the Yanks hadn’t won in quite a few years with all those bought rings, right?

  18. Jonny5 - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    I don’t get it. Why not keep Matsui? All the money the Yankees drew in from Japan, through advertisements and broadcasting because “the one” was on their team, for a “round eye” who is pretty equal?? I don’t get it…. Matsui was almost free for the Yanks for the above reasons….. WTH????

  19. Eat a Borg - Dec 18, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    Great signing by the best executive in sports. And this coming from a Red Sox fan. Getting Nick Johnson to DH gives the Borg the flexibility to stick someone else at DH if they get too hurt to play the field but can still swing the bat. Getting Damon or Matsui locks down the DH spot so no one else can use it.
    If everyone stays healthy, the DH spot can be rotated amongst regulars to get days off from the field without removing their bats. Strongly reminiscent of the Swisher signing, basically you can’t have enough professional hitters who can work the count.

  20. John Vercelli - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:01 AM

    The Yankee front office really screwed this one up. They should have never let Matsui go and should have not gone after Granderson. What ‘s wrong with Melky in Centerfield??? They needed to work on their pitching staff. They are pretty solid with CC and Petite, but Burnett is not consistent and they need at least one more stronger starter to fill the void. Johnny Damon still has a few more good years ahead of him and needs to be signed pronto!!! What’s going on with Ceravelli??? They need him to platoon with Posada and look for another defensive catcher who can hit too!! Joe Girardi and Jeter need to have a little more say in the acquisition of team players. You can buy all the great players you want, but if the team doesn’t click like they did this year, the Yanks will not repeat their winning ways.

  21. Eat a Peach - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    Dear John:
    You are out of your mind. Cashman has taken the best club in baseball and greatly improved them already. There is not a single baseball executive on earth that would want Melky Cabrera instead of Curtis Granderson. Heck, even Steve Phillips knows better than that. You seem to be buttressing your argument with a “chemistry” argument. What are you going to say when they win 120 games in the regular season this year?

  22. Purnell Meagre - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:18 AM

    Hope you don’t let your belief in fancy statistics ruin your appreciation of a great game.

  23. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    However, Johnson will do some sitting against left-handers and he’s likely to miss some time over the course of the year.

    Why would the Yanks sit Johnson against left handers? His career splits are:
    RH: .266/.394/.450
    LH: .292/.424/.438
    So better contact and better walk %, but slightly less power? This isn’t a Ryan Howard/Curtis Granderson situation.

  24. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    comments one by one:

    The Yankee front office really screwed this one up. They should have never let Matsui go and should have not gone after Granderson. What ‘s wrong with Melky in Centerfield???

    Granderson is a better hitter with far more power and a far better fielder. Oh, he’s also on the hook for $25M/3years so he’s relatively cheap for production out of a defensive position

    They needed to work on their pitching staff. They are pretty solid with CC and Petite, but Burnett is not consistent and they need at least one more stronger starter to fill the void.

    The current rotation of CC/AJ/Pettitte/Joba/Hughes is equal to last year, that won the WS. The rumors are they are looking to add a high reward guy like Sheets depending on the $.

    Johnny Damon still has a few more good years ahead of him and needs to be signed pronto!!!

    Uh no, not at 3+ years and $13M per year. If you look at a group of Damon/Matsui/Melky compared to this new group of Granderson/Johnson/Melky, they got better defensively, the offense is a wash, and they saved money.
    Cervelli is probably the backup this year, Jeter and Posada should still to playing and let Cashman run the business. the guy did just put together a WS winner.

  25. Bob R. - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    On the contrary, my appreciation (not belief) in advanced (not fancy) stats enhances my appreciation of a great game. (I am not Mark Runsvold, but do enjoy reading analysts who make sense rather than those who toss worn out cliches around.) I can’t imagine why someone would assume that ignorance somehow makes someone more appreciative of anything, let alone a game that has focused on stats pretty much since its inception and has continually sought to refine its understanding of its inner workings by updating them. In the 1950s, Branch Rickey hired someone to do just that, and virtually every team has its proprietary stats that it uses to help make decisions.

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