When the Yankees signed Chris Carter it suggested that either first baseman Greg Bird or Tyler Austin would lose some playing time. It’s unclear what the plan might’ve been if all three of these guys were healthy, but now the Yankees needn’t worry themselves about it because Austin has gone and broke his foot.
He did it while taking batting practice, smacking a ball off of his foot. It’s a small break but will keep him in a boot for three weeks and away from baseball activities for six weeks. Which is basically all of spring training.
Austin, 25, got a cup of coffee with the Yankees last year, hitting .241/.300/.458 with five homers in 31 games.
Welp, shows you what I know. This morning, when it was rumored that the Yankees were talking to Chris Carter, I suggested that it made no sense because they already have a DH in Matt Holliday and they have two young first basemen in Greg Bird and Tyler Austin who will likely anchor that position in the future.
Then the Yankees go and do this:
Nightengale later said the deal was for a guaranteed $3.5 million with the chance for $4 million. It breaks down like this: $3 million base salary, $500,000 signing bonus, and $500,000 in incentives.
The signing suggests to me that they either have continuing questions about Greg Bird’s health — he missed all of 2016 with a torn labrum — or else they think Holliday isn’t a full-time player. Though it’s not like he and Carter can platoon given that they’re both righties. Oh well, the more the merrier!
Carter led the NL with 41 homers in 2016. He’s not as good as that suggests, however, having hit only .222/.321/.499 while leading the league in strikeouts. That makes him one of the least valuable home run leaders of all time, even if the homers are pretty.
Either way: welcome to New York.
UPDATE: Welp, shows you what I know. The Yankees have signed Carter.
9:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers checked in on free agent slugger Chris Carter. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Yankees are “keeping tabs” on him as well.
The Dodgers report seems odd given that they have Adrian Gonzalez, the NL has no DH, Carter has not played the outfield on anything approaching a regular basis for years and, even when he did, he wasn’t good at it. Add on the fact that the Dodgers are already over the luxury tax threshold, meaning that they’d pay a 50% tax on his salary, and their interest in Carter makes even less sense.
The Yankees are likewise an odd potential destination for Carter. The luxury tax considerations are the same. They signed Matt Holliday to be their DH. Their first base situation is devoted to the future, with Greg Bird and/or Tyler Austin covering it. As Crasnick notes, Carter could be insurance, but the value of such insurance to a team is likely far less than what Carter would agree to sign for.
It’s getting close to spring training and Carter, the reigning NL home run champ, is unemployed. I suspect that, rather than serious interest in him on the part of the Dodgers and Yankees, this is an instance in which his agent, Dave Stewart, is attempting to create the appearance of teams having interest in him.