The Yankees were in the news quite a bit on Friday as news broke out just around 11am that second baseman Robinson Cano had signed a 10 year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners. This signing was after it was reported that he had flown to Seattle to meet with the Mariners front office, then talks had broken off, then they were back on again. Well, we all know the outcome now. Cano signed the third largest contract ever given to a position player, tied with Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, and behind the two contracts teammate Alex Rodriguez received from the Rangers and Yankees.
The Yankees had been preparing for Cano leaving it appears, as they had signed catcher Brian McCann to a 5 year, $85 million deal before Thanksgiving, and signed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7 year, $153 million deal just this week.
Well, they aren't finished, as it was reported late last night that they had signed outfielder Carlos Beltran to a 3 year, $45 million deal. The news was first reported, I believe, by Yankees beat writer Mark Feinsand, from the New York Daily News over Twitter:
The Yankees' deal with Beltran is three years and $45 million, according to a source.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 7, 2013
I wrote about the possibility of the Yankees signing Beltran back on November 25th, saying the following:
Beltran has been known as an injury risk, and he is, but he has played in 142 games or more in each of the last three seasons. That is more games played than Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo over the last three seasons. Moving to the Yankees allows him to DH on occasion, allowing him to rest his balky knees a few times per week, and will probably result in some very productive seasons from him throughout the length of his contract, which I assume will be three years.
It is true, Beltran, once known as an injury risk and injury prone, has quieted his skeptics and has played at 142 games in each of the last three seasons, all in the National League where there is no DH. He now moves to a Yankee lineup where he can DH occasionally, while playing right field most of the time.
This signing gives the Yankees a much better lineup than they had when the season ended, even with Cano:
LF - Brett Gardner
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury
RF - Carlos Beltran
3B - Kelly Johnson/free agent?
SS - Derek Jeter/Brendan Ryan
2B - Kelly Johnson/free agent?
1B - Mark Teixeira
C - Brian McCann
DH - Alfonso Soriano
The Yankees also have Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki on the bench after these moves, so one of them, or even Brett Gardner, could be dealt. Gardner, obviously, has the most trade value, and could be used to fill the second base or starting pitcher hole.
I could see the Yankees and Reds hooking up in a trade involving Gardner and second baseman Brandon Phillips. Or, they could use Gardner to deal for a starting pitcher, but that will be harder to come by. Then again, the Tigers traded Doug Fister for a few minor leaguers last week.
What the Yankees have done this offseason is replace Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson with Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Kelly Johnson. Here is their 2013 WAR comparison:
McCann - 2.7 WAR
Beltran - 2.0 WAR
Johnson - 1.2 WAR
Ellsbury - 5.8 WAR
Cano - 6.0 WAR
Granderson - 1.4 WAR
So, based on 2013 WAR, they have added 4 wins, which is meaningful after missing the playoffs for the first time in years.
I see Beltran performing well playing half of his games at Yankee Stadium in 2014. Yankee Stadium, as we all know, is more hitter-friendly than Busch Stadium. While Busch Stadium depressed home runs by about 16% in 2013, Yankee Stadium increased home run output by about 13%, so we could see Beltran hit a few more home runs in 2014. In addition, Busch Stadium depressed run scoring by 11%, while Yankee Stadium improved run scoring by about 9%.
Back on November 15th, I published my early Top 30 Outfielder Rankings for 2014, where I ranked Beltran at #29. I assumed he would sign with the Yankees when completing those rankings, so he won't move much, if at all, after the signing became official last night.
Over his last three seasons, where Beltran has played 142 games or more, he has averaged 26 home runs, 80 runs, 88 RBI and a .288 batting average. I wouldn't be surprised if he is right around those numbers in all four categories in 2014, assuming good health. He is still a top 30 outfielder for me, and should be drafted accordingly. Age may catch up to him, so there is some risk that comes with drafting a 37 year old outfielder
For more on the Beltran signing, make sure you check out Pinstripe Alley, SB Nation's Yankees fan site.
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