On Tuesday, the Yankees signed slugging first baseman Chris Carter to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. The way the deal works, Carter will get a $500,000 signing bonus in addition to a $3 million base salary.
It is somewhat surprising that the Yankees were able to get Carter for only $3.5 million. Last season while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, he belted 41 home runs. This tied him with Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for the most home runs in the National League.
Despite his power, there were not too many teams interested in Carter this offseason. This is probably because his batting average was only .222 in 2016. He also struck out 206 times, which was more than any other player in the National League.
From the Yankees’ perspective, this signing makes a lot of sense. With all of the power that he has, Carter has the potential to hit a decent amount of home runs at Yankee Stadium. He is also a right-handed hitter, which means that he will probably see plenty of playing time when the Yankees face left-handed pitching.
As of right now, Greg Bird is set to be the Opening Day first baseman for the Yankees. A young lefty who also has a lot of power, Bird has a bright future with the team. He missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing surgery last offseason to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Before getting injured, Bird showed plenty of potential at the Major League level. He was called up in August of 2015 and put up impressive numbers in the short amount of time before the end of the season. In 157 at-bats, he hit .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs. As long as he is able to stay healthy this year, the Yankees will get to see what Bird can do in a full season.
With Bird likely to be the starting first baseman, Carter will assume the role of his backup. Carter will definitely get starts, but probably only when they Yankees are facing a left-handed pitcher. The Yankees could also utilize him as their designated hitter. Slugger Matt Holiday, who was signed by the Yankees earlier in the offseason, will most likely be the team’s main designated hitter. When he needs a day off, Carter can step in.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made a smart move by signing Carter. The fact that they were able to get him at such a low cost makes the signing even better. The Yankees now have a viable backup option at first base. It will be interesting to see how Carter does when he gets playing time this season.