If the weeks leading into the Winter Meetings were all about making a splash, this past week was more about filling specific holes.
The names weren’t nearly as big as Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury or Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees did come to terms with a couple of veteran players on Tuesday. Second baseman Brian Roberts agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal (plus incentives) and left-hander Matt Thornton signed for two years, $7 million.
Both Roberts and Thornton are well past their prime, but the Yankees have glaring holes at second base and on the left side of their bullpen. Roberts has faced significant health issues in recent years, but he’s also an experienced switch hitter who should fill at least some of the playing time void. Thornton might not be the elite setup man he used to be in Chicago, but he still throws pretty hard and the Yankees needed an experienced lefty to make up for the loss of Boone Logan.
That’s the theory anyway, that these two can fill specific needs without costing a ton of money or requiring a significant long-term risk.
The Roberts signing was the Yankees fourth — or fifth 40-man infield addition of the winter (signed Kelly Johnson, re-signed Brendan Ryan, traded for Dean Anna, and I guess technically re-signed Derek Jeter). But it was their first 40-man bullpen move (unless you count protecting a few guys from the Rule 5 draft).
Adding Roberts seems to have left the Yankees in the market primarily for a right-handed third baseman on the position player side. For the pitching staff, though, the Yankees still have plenty of work to do.
• Major League Baseball officially announced changes to the Japanese posting system. The changes had been pretty well known for a while — maximum $20 million posting fee; possibility of multiple teams negotiating with a posted player — but the announcement still brought no clarity to the Masahiro Tanaka situation. In fact, it might have brought more confusion as various reports suggested various outcomes. Brian Cashman said publicly that the Tanaka decision is not keeping the Yankees from making a move, though it’s a bit hard to believe.
• Much like they did for Ellsbury and McCann, the Yankees had a high-profile press conference to introduce Beltran. On Friday, Beltran talked about his long admiration of the Yankees (and his past frustrations with the Mets). Joe Girardi said he expects to give Beltran time at DH to help keep him healthy.
• Speaking of new hitters, the Yankees were reportedly talking to both Jeff Baker and Mark Reynolds about possibly providing some right-handed insurance at third base, but there was little indication that a deal was close.
• And speaking of third basemen, Kevin Youkilis wound up signing with a Japanese team for next season. Further proof that last year did not go the way he wanted or expected. Not saying he won’t be happy playing in Japan, but I don’t think Youkilis — or the Yankees — signed last year’s contract thinking he was a year away from playing overseas.
• The Yankees were hit with a $28.1 million luxury tax bill for 2013. The Dodgers were the only other team to pay a luxury tax, and they paid $11.4 million.
• A little bit of a stir came from Jeff Passan’s report that the Yankees made a seven-year, $140-million offer to Shin-Soo Choo before agreeing to terms with Beltran. Would have been pretty interesting to see the Yankees go seven years and more than $100 million with two left-handed outfielders this winter.
• Brett Marshall was designated for assignment to make room for Beltran on the 40-man. Last year’s Triple-A struggles, and a wealth of relatively similar back-of-the-rotation options seem to have made him the best choice.
Associated Press photos