Why didn’t the Yankees sign Reed Johnson?
From MLBTR, we learn that the Los Angeles Dodgers officially signed 33-year old outfielder, Reed Johnson, to a one-year, $800K contract. On top of the base salary, Johnson could also earn an additional $250K via incentives.
Now, the Yankees, who had been connected to Johnson since December, ultimately chose to sign Randy Winn over Johnson, citing Johnson’s health as an area of concern while trumpeting Winn’s more well-rounded abilities (he’s a durable switch-hitter, great fielder, etc.) and veteran leadership. And, while I agree with the Yankees that Winn is a better reserve option, overall – that $2 million seems like an overpay, though, in retrospect – I do wonder why Brian Cashman did not ink Johnson to a deal, as well. The club is still in need of a right-handed bat and Johnson, with his .313/.378/.463 line against left-handers, was the best on the market behind the powerful Jonny Gomes (but Johnson is a better defender, more versatile, etc.). Therefore, instead of choosing Winn over Johnson, why not just sign both?
To answer my own question, besides their concerns regarding Johnson’s health – he has chronic back problems – it seems as though the goatee-loving outfielder might have been too expensive for the Yankees, even at a base salary of $800K. The incentives, which pushed the contract just over the $1 million mark, probably helped to preclude such a signing, as well. In addition, it has been reported by a number of sources that the organization is only willing to offer a right-handed bat like Johnson’s a minor-league deal, so perhaps LA’s Major League proposal was simply better than anything the Yankees could have offered. In the end, the Yankees just don’t see Johnson fulfilling an important role – right-handed outfielder/bench bat – or at least it is not important enough to warrant providing a Major League deal.
Based on their roster, I still think the Yankees will add another right-handed bat, but it will only be on their terms.
Photo by the AP