The Yankees’ recent free agent acquisition of Chris Carter creates somewhat of a logjam at what most would not consider a position(s) of need for the club right now. Carter plays mainly firs base and DH. He’s seen some time in the outfield, but hasn’t played there since his 2014 season with the Astros, and he was a mild disaster when he did. So it’s really first or DH for him. Let’s look at who the Yankees currently have slotted in at those positions.
1B: Greg Bird, Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder
DH: Matt Holliday, Tyler Austin, Revolving door of third/fourth/fifth outfielders
It doesn’t look like there’s a lot of room for Carter, does it?
Well, the truth is he’s not really the type of guy you want on the field, unless it’s in the batter’s box. In 3402.2 innings at first, Carter has a cumulative UZR of -15.5 runs, and has not had a positive UZR in any single one of his six seasons at the position. The dude’s got poor range and makes his fare share of errors.
So let’s assume that regular time at 1B is out of the equation. That just leaves us with DH. Holliday, who the Yankees signed earlier in the offseason on a 1 yr, $13 million deal, is the presumed starting DH. He’s been a career NL outfielder who’s at an age where guys like him typically start to look more toward hitting than fielding on a regular basis. Last season he was down to 85 games in left, as compared to 150 games in 2014. Still, that’s half a season, which means Holliday can be a viable corner outfield option if needed to give guys like Gardner or Judge a day off. If Holliday isn’t DHing, then I’d have to assume Carter gets the edge over Austin, at least for the time being.
That, plus off days for Holliday, are really the only times I see Carter getting regular at bats. Right now he’s looking like more of a backup platoon option with Bird should Austin go down with some sort of injury, or start seriously underperforming.
The thing is, I’m sure Carter, who played in 160 games last season, is going to want more playing time than that. Maybe the Yankees have something else in mind for him. Either way though, a deal’s a deal, and Carter surely knew the situation he would be heading into in New York when he signed it. For the Yankees, it’s certainly not bad to have a high power bat in the reserves to stick into the lineup whenever they need a big hit. Carter gives the team options, which is something you definitely want to have, especially when they come cheap.