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Yankees sign Chris Carter. Where does he fit on roster?

Chris Carter agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the New York Yankees.

Chris Carter (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Chris Carter (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The New York Yankees inked last year’s NL home run leader to a 1-year, $3.5 million dollar contract on Tuesday. Chris Carter has been patiently waiting for the market to heat up for his services, but despite his powerful 2016, he has continued to wait. The Yankees were the team to finally pull the trigger and sign this brute.

This 1 year, incentive-laden deal is quite the bargain. Carter will receive a $500,000 signing bonus and can also receive $100,000 each for 250, 300, 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances. For a player who led his league in home runs the previous year, this comes as a very low risk, high reward signing. The move surprised some as he didn’t seem like he would have a definitive role with the Yankees.

The Yankees had 183 home runs last year, but a lot of their power came from the left side. They needed a right-handed power bat and it seemed like the Yankees were content with Matt Holliday filling that void.

Clearly the market cooled to a point where the price was too good to pass up and the Yankees added Carter to supplement Holliday as the other righty power hitter. There could also be more strategy behind this with skilled lefties like Sale, Price, Britton, Happ, and Snell lurking in the AL East. The Yankees missed Chris Young in the lineup last year against lefties, so Carter will certainly try to be this years antidote to them. The Major League Baseball season is long and grueling, so it’s never bad to have a contingency plan like Carter. You have unproven talents like Bird and Judge and an aging veteran like Holliday.

The biggest downside to Chris Carter would be his ugly strikeout numbers. Last year alone, Carter was fanned a league-leading 206 times and he once led the AL in strikeouts with 212 in 2013. He has essentially been a boom or bust player his whole career. He’ll hit you a ton of home runs and he will strikeout a ton. Per 162 games, his average home run total is 36 and his average strikeout total is 206. Also, expect a batting average in the .220s or lower. Aside from leading the NL in homers last year with 41, he finished 2nd in the AL to Nelson Cruz in 2014 with 37 home runs.

The Baby Bombers will take a hit with this move. Tyler Austin might have just lost his roster spot and Greg Bird will definitely lose at-bats. Carter is not known for his defense, but he is a capable of playing first base and even some corner outfield. With Bird coming off of a major shoulder surgery and not ever playing a full Major League season, Carter can relieve him at times and maybe even form a platoon with him at first base. Also, Matt Holliday, who was supposed to be getting the bulk of his at-bats at DH, will have to get some at-bats in the outfield. Assuming Aaron Judge, wins the right field job in Spring Training, he can see his at-bats get cut down some too.

I personally don’t see the benefit of taking their at-bats away, when half of the time Carter walks to the plate, he walks right back to the dugout. Yes, he provides depth and yes, the Yankees are not in a full rebuild, but I was hoping the Baby Bombers would get a ton of at-bats this year. Last year Carter played in an NL leading 160 games, but this season I don’t see him getting as many consistent at-bats, which will probably inflate his strikeout numbers, and decrease his home run total.

All in all this isn’t a bad move for the Yanks. If Carter hits, the Yankees found a cheap righty power option and possible trade bait to a contender. If he doesn’t hit, the Bombers can eat the $3.5 million dollars and designate him for assignment to give the kids more opportunities.

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Spencer is the New York Yankees Lead Writer for
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