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Yankees close to signing Kelly Johnson to one-year deal

Dec 4, 2013, 7:35 AM EDT

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After reportedly agreeing to terms on a seven-year, $153 million contract with Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees are close to securing some Robinson Cano insurance.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are on the verge of signing Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract worth between $2.75-$3 million. Of course, the Yankees would prefer to keep Cano, so ideally Johnson would be used in a super utility role in 2014. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman hears that he could see a lot of time at third base depending on the ruling regarding Alex Rodriguez‘s PED suspension.

Johnson, who turns 32 in February, hit .235/.305/.410 with 16 home runs, 52 RBI, and seven stolen over 118 games with the Rays this past season while making starts between second base, third base, first base, and left field. He has averaged 20 homers over the past four seasons. His left-handed power would appear to be an excellent fit for Yankee Stadium.

  1. blynch67 - Dec 4, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    Good!

  2. fanofevilempire - Dec 4, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    good sign, utility guy who will be needed with the current infield.
    Yankees spending a lot of paper!

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      I have seen him play second base in Toronto and can tell you that he would be significantly worse than Cano at that position.

      • tc4306 - Dec 4, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        I, too, have seen him play in Toronto and if they had turf at Yankee Stadium I’d agree that he would not be a viable option at 2nd base. But they don’t, and while he would be no Cano, he’d likely be quite serviceable there.

      • fanofevilempire - Dec 4, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Canadian, come on, Cano. plays a solid second base, I won’t thumb you down, but
        be very careful, hehhehehehhehehehehehe.

        I like that we pick him from the Rays and Ells from Boston.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 4, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        Is that a typo I see?

  3. fanofevilempire - Dec 4, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    I think the Yankees should have signed Beltran @ half the cost of Ellsbury, even with the age.
    Santa is delivering in the Bronx this year, Flushing Queens, not so much!

    merry x-mas everybody!

    • uyf1950 - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:06 AM

      Merry Christmas to you as well.

      • fanofevilempire - Dec 4, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        you are so sweet.

    • jfk69 - Dec 4, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      Beltran wanted third year and would basically be another DH/ part time outfielder.
      Gardner is now available with one of the back up catchers and some minor/major league pitching to score a major starter in a surprise trade.

      • agudelesp - Dec 4, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        Send Gardner to Cincy for Brandon Phillips makes sense for both teams, and then let Cano get the millions from someone else.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        Why would the Yankees spend significantly more money to take on the lesser player?

  4. uyf1950 - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Should the Yankees sign Johnson while the intent at this point may be to use him as a “utility” infielder the Yankees probably wouldn’t hesitate to use him as their full time 2nd baseman if it comes to that. This could be a very good signing for the Yankees at a very minimal cost.

    Putting aside the pitching for a moment which I’m sure Cashman will address by the Winter Meetings the current starting line up for the Yankees is looking like this, assuming NO Cano:
    Outfield: Ellsbury (CF), Gardner (RF), Soriano (LF) OR Ellsbury (CF), Soriano (LF), Ichiro (RF)
    Infield: Teixeria, Johnson (if signed), Jeter / Ryan (BU), A-Rod or Nunez or Anna
    Catching: McCann with Cervelli or Romine as the back up

    Really for the starting line up the Yankees just need to solidify 3rd base and that they will probably hold off on until the arbitrator renders his verdict sometime between now and the 1st of the year. Until then they stick with their in house options.

    • stex52 - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:31 AM

      The lineup seems a bit power-lite unless you count on Tex to have no more wrist problems, A-Rod to play, and Jeter to come back to form. That’s a lot to expect. I look for the Yanks to pick up one more hitter, or to take the dive for Cano.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:46 AM

        It’s a little light but still much improved over last year. As for Tex expect that offensive and defensively he will be better then who the Yankees patched together for 1st base last year. That same comments is true about Jeter.will be be as good as 2012 probably not, will he be better then in 2013 and better the hodgepodge of players they had play 3rd base last year absolutely.
        Then there is A-Rod. Who knows whats going to happen with him. But whether it’s him or Reynolds or Nunez or Johnson that certainly has to beat the combination of Nix, Adams and Youkilis and probably a couple of other names that escape me.

        Just my opinion but I think the offense is already much improved over last year, thank God. Because last year it was terrible. Soriano for a full year is a big improvement over Wells/Ichiro and with Ellsbury at the top of the order and McCann’s bat. Before anyone asks no I haven;t forgotten about the possibility of losing Cano’s offense and I doubt the Yankees have either. If ultimately he does sign somewhere else I have confidence that Cashman will do something to mitigate/lessen the loss.

        I will close by saying I have a lot more confidence in the Yankees 2014 today then I had when the 2013 season ended.

      • fanofevilempire - Dec 4, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        Yeah, right now can’t really bet your money any of them will be back for opening day.
        Scary!

  5. tc4306 - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Johnson will be a good sign.
    He figures to be pretty much an every day player
    but his position might change from day to day.

    Not a Yankee fan but it is an interesting roster they are building.
    So far, they’re looking as much “Bronx Burners” as “Bronx Bombers.”
    They have “Bombers” Teix, McCann and Soriano..with Johnson a bit of that,
    but when they add another big bat they’ll have a nice mix of speed and power.

    The do have a lot of outfielders under contract:
    Ellsbury, Gardiner, Soriano, Suzuki, and Wells
    to go along with Johnson who can play there too.
    Makes one wonder if Gardiner might be trade bait…or
    Wells even, since most of his salary is being paid by the Angels.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 4, 2013 at 8:52 AM

      Wells? I believe that he plans to retire once his contract expires, so he will probably be retired by this time next year. I also believe that there is a no trade provision in that contract, so he would have to approve any trade. I do wish him a happy birthday on Sunday.

    • jfk69 - Dec 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Wells..Nope.
      gardner yes or suzuki goes home ???

  6. cackalackyank - Dec 4, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Yeah should have spent a lot less on Ellsbury, and spent a little more on an infield bat. Just sayin.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 4, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      What makes you think this is the last FA signing the Yanks will make?

      • cackalackyank - Dec 4, 2013 at 2:07 PM

        Well, unless we are going to repeat the pitching staff disaster of 2008 this OBVIOUSLY isn’t the last free agent signing. Problem is we don’t need ANOTHER infielder that hits under .250. We also don’t need another player getting paid over 20 million per to spend 50% of his season on average on the DL.

  7. phillysports1 - Dec 4, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    They could spent a lot less in Beltran , infante , kazmir all together . And maybe a solid relief pitcher

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 4, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      Anytime you can take up 3 roster spots instead of 1, you jump right on that chance.

    • jfk69 - Dec 4, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      When you try to go on the cheap..you get exactly what you pay for. While the Yankees have made some bad signings over the years. Kaz would have been worse than AJ Burnett. The Yankees sign for star power and the moment. That is why they pay the big money and expect to be in the hunt every year. It has worked well for them since George bought the team from CBS for less than one years salary for Scott Kazmir. They only know one way. Miss the playoffs. SPEND BABY SPEND

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 4, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Seems like nice insurance to have at 2B/3B/OF. They lacked power last year, and Johnson is pretty good for that, and can help cover several of the Yankees’ question marks. Even if ARod does play this year, I would not expect him to play 160 in the field so they need someone better than Nunez/Ryan to play 3B a few time a week. If ARod is not around, well, Johnson makes a ton of sense.

    • cackalackyank - Dec 4, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Seriously? A .235 BA makes a ton of sense? If Chris Stewart’s sub .250 average did not make sense from the catcher’s spot in the line up, why does a .235 from one of 3 infield spots make sense now? It kinda defeats/negates any offensive plus that comes from having McCann.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 4, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        If BA was the only stat out there, I would agree with your assessment. The Yankees were using Jayson Nix, Nunez, Adams etc at 3B last year. Johnson has been a 20/20 or at least 15/15 guy with a decent batting eye. That is a nice bench player.

      • cackalackyank - Dec 4, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        Not the only stat but a darned important one .It kinda indicates how often a guy gets hits which have been known to instrumental in scoring runs. We do not really need another bench player for the infield. They already signed a no hit defensive sub I think named Ryan, and there is Nunez. The point I was trying to make is that by sticking to infielders that only hit .250 or less they are basically creating a status quo with poor production even though we need to be seeing a plus from adding McCann. Right now the line up is looking to be as power poor as last year…maybe worse.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 4, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        Johnson + Ryan > Nunez.+ Nix The bench is better than it was in 2013, and the team definitely needs at least 2 reserve IFs. I believe signing Johnson would mean that we do not see Nunez in the Bronx in 2014.

        I am not saying their work is done with Johnson, but he is a good bench player. Probably better to have than Mark Reynolds.

        I think the main improvements for 2014 over 2013 are expected to be heathy players on the roster. Fingers crossed.

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