During this winter of new contracts for familiar faces, the Yankees finally signed a new guy last week. And truthfully, he’s about as familiar as anyone.
Long-time Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis officially signed a one-year, $12-million deal on Friday. He’ll switch sides in the rivalry and take over at third while Alex Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery.
“They just told me that I’m going to play third base,” Youkilis said. “With Alex, when he comes back, he’ll probably DH a little bit, play a little third. There’s no telling. We hope that he recovers as soon as possible.”
Of course, Youkilis did continue the Yankees trend of one-year deals with aging players.
“I’d say you’re always concerned about (age),” Brian Cashman said. “But I’m not concerned about it when you look at the alternatives. The alternative is, ‘Hey, I could get a younger player that just isn’t very good.’ You could run him out there for 162. It wouldn’t hurt, but he wouldn’t help you.”
• Although nothing is official yet, the Yankees are believed to be on the verge of finalizing a two-year contract with Ichiro Suzuki. Cashman can’t publicly comment on the deal, but he has acknowledged that the Yankees will need to add a right-handed outfielder if (and when) they do re-sign Ichiro.
• Scott Hairston, who could fit that need for a right-handed outfielder, is reportedly looking for a two-year deal. The Yankees have been trying to avoid multi-year contracts this winter and have previously filled that right-handed platoon role by signing Andruw Jones to two separate one-year contracts.
• Speaking of Jones, he’s agreed to play in Japan next season, a sign of just how far he’s fallen.
• The Yankees added some depth by agreeing to minor league deals with catcher Bobby Wilson and infielder Gil Velazquez.
• At a Yankee Stadium food drive, Mariano Rivera once again said he expects to be fully healthy in time for spring training. He’s supposed to start a throwing program soon.
• The Yankees finally released their spring training schedule, which begins on the road against the Braves on February 23. The schedule also includes a rare trip to play the Cardinals and Marlins in Jupiter.
• The Yankees were hit with a $18.9 million luxury tax bill for 2012. They were the only team hit with the tax.
• The Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) will honor Yogi Berra and Joba Chamberlain at its annual fund-raising dinner in January. Berra is the honoree of the evening while Chamberlain will receive the Bart Giamatti Award, which goes to “an individual in baseball who best exemplifies the compassion demonstrated by the late Commissioner.”
• Goes without saying that the thoughts and prayers of myself and everyone here at LoHud go out to the families affected by Friday’s unthinkable violence in Connecticut. Can’t think of a single thing to say except that it’s been a horrible and sad situation that’s going to linger with us for a while.
Associated Press photos