The New York Yankees have reached a deal with free agent second baseman Brian Roberts that will see him earn at least $2 million for one year, reports Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. There are incentives worked into the deal that may raise his salary.
Roberts, 36, has spent his entire 13-year career as a member of the AL East with the Baltimore Orioles. He was once one of the top second baseman in baseball, utilizing his speed and gap power to consistently be near the top of the rankings in steals and doubles while also playing excellent defense.
However, in recent years, Roberts has barely been able to show he can still play. Injuries have allowed him to appear in only 192 games over the last four seasons as he has suffered through a herniated disc, an abdominal strain, a concussion, a groin strain, a hip injury, and a ruptured tendon in his knee.
His 77 games in 2013 were his most since 2009. He hit .249/.312/.392 with three stolen bases and eight home runs last year. The Orioles had shown interest in re-signing him to begin the season as their starting second baseman while also mentoring top prospect Jonathan Schoop.
The Yankees missed out on their top two choices at second base this offseason. Incumbent Robinson Cano signed a $240 million deal with the Mariners that New York refused to match while Omar Infante, to whom the Yankees offered a three-year contract, signed a four-year deal with the Royals.
If healthy, Roberts should be a useful if unspectacular player for the Yankees. He is certainly no longer the key piece he once was, but can hold his own at the plate and is a cheap replacement for a New York squad trying to stay under a $189 million payroll in an effort to avoid the luxury tax. A one-year deal will also allow the Yankees to look for a better option next offseason, though it figures to be a weak free agent class at second base. Ben Zobrist and Rickie Weeks appear to be the top available players at the position next year.
No word yet on whether the Yankees are looking to cannibalize Roberts for parts to keep shortstop Derek Jeter working for one more year. Given both men's injury woes, there may not be enough working limbs to form one healthy player.