The Yankees wasted little time in replacing at least the bat of Robinson Cano in the lineup by signing free agent right fielder Carlos Beltran to a three year, $45 million contract.
Beltran, 36, now joins the team he flirted with back in 2004, before signing with the Mets. While Beltran was not greatly appreciated in a Mets uniform, he was a very good player for them during his seven year stay in Queens before he was dealt to San Francisco in 2011.
Now Beltran returns to New York after spending part of the last two years in San Francisco and St. Louis. He still has some pop in his bat, having hit .296 with 24 homers and 86 RBI last season for the NL Champion Cardinals.
For the Bombers instead of investing $240 million in one player in Cano, they have invested $283 million in three veterans players, Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann. A very solid job, at least on paper, by Brian Cashman to spread the wealth to dependable bats.
One issue with the Beltran acquisition is the log jam that has now been created in the outfield -- clearly the Yankees are going to have to make some tough decisions. The roster currently has Beltran, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, Ellsbury, and Alfonso Soriano in the outfield. Someone has got to be cut, the Yankees can not afford to pay them all.
Soriano is making $19 million; Wells, $24 million; Suzuki, $6.5 million; Ellsbury $21.9 million; Beltran, $24 million, and Gardner $2.85 million. The likely ones to get cut are Suzuki and Wells. Neither player has much left in the tank and the Yankees might as well eat that salary and move on. Soriano is valuable as a power bat off the bench, and he could even play a little second base if the Yankees wanted to go that route.
While the move to bring Beltran aboard fills out the Yankees batting order, it doesn't solve everything. The Yankees are old and they have lingering questions. Second base is a mystery, as is third base with the soon-to-be suspended Alex Rodriguez.
They are betting that an older team can challenge the defending world champion Red Sox, and frisky teams like the Rays and Orioles for the division title. We saw that a year ago this formula did not work -- who is to say it will be different this time around.
Instead of trying to get younger, the Yankees are going for broke when we thought initially they would try to scale back on the payroll. Just goes to show everyone that the Yankees can't help themselves. They have built a monster that relies on signing former All Stars -- that has been their trade since the true final championship of the dynasty in 2000.
Losing Cano is going to hurt them in the short term; even Beltran can't replace all of the power that Cano provides in the middle of the order, especially not a 36-year old Beltran.
But this is what makes the Yankees interesting. The Yankees love money, they love spending it, even recklessly. They have seats to fill, boxes to sell out. One can't blame them for being bold.
No doubt the Yankees have some players here, and if they are fortunate enough to have both Derek Jeter and Mark Teixiera back fully healthy - this could be a lethal lineup. It says something when a team has a lineup of clutch hitters, whom the Yankees have.
We shall see how this works out once the season commences, but the Yankees once again have our attention.