Edit/Update: The deal has been confirmed to be $3.5 million for 1 year, with plate appearance incentives that potentially push that number up to $4 million.
The Yankees have signed 1B/DH Chris Carter to a 1 year, $3 million contract pending a physical. Carter, who spent last year with the Milwaukee Brewers, hit more home runs than any other NL player besides Nolan Arenado, who he tied for the league lead with 41. You must be asking yourself, why would a free agent with league leading power take so long to sign a deal, and only a $3 million one at that? Well the answer lies within basically all of Carter’s other stats.
Last season the guy slashed .222/.321/.499 with a 32.0 K%, and ranked dead last among all NL first baseman with a 0.9 fWAR. He’s sort of your typical three true outcome player, except he doesn’t walk that much (career 11.6 BB%). Basically, when Carter isn’t hitting home runs, he’s probably striking out.
But hey … 41 home runs, right? And the truth is at $3 million for a one year commitment, this contract is something of a steal for the Yankees. Let’s hastily compare Carter’s numbers last year to another free agent this off-season with a similar skill set, Mark Trumbo:
Carter: .222/.321/.499, 11.8 BB%, 32 K%, .346wOBA, 112 wRC+, 0.9 WAR
Trumbo: .256/.316./.533, 7.6 BB%, 25.5 K%, .358 wOBA, 123 wRC+, 2.2 WAR
Obviously Christ Carter is not Mark Trumbo. That much is clear. But, looking at those numbers, and considering Trumbo signed for 3 yrs, $37.5 million (AAV of $12.5 million) just a few weeks ago, can you honestly say that Trumbo is worth four times as much as Carter for two years longer? I wouldn’t think so. I’d call Chris Carter a middle-class man’s Mark Trumbo, and the Yankees got him for a poor-man’s Mark Trumbo price.
Another factor to take into consideration here is will Carter even finish the season with the Yanks? There are always teams looking to add power at the trade deadline every season. In this aspect, Carter is a known commodity. Barring an injury or a dramatic reduction in slugging, Carter could easily be just as valuable, if not more so, in July than he is right now. This is a low-risk, low-commitment deal with medium to high upside in regards to both production and potential return.