The Yankees have absolutely refused to stand pat this offseason. After adding Curtis Granderson in the first big trade of the winter, the Yankees have now agreed to terms with 1B/DH Nick Johnson. Johnson will receive roughly 5.5 million dollars for his services.
The champions have revamped their outfield and DH positions from last season, and it’s hard to deny that they’ve made a significant improvement. The signing of Johnson replaces the recently departed Hideki Matsui, and also makes Johnny Damon unnecessary. Johnson is a significant on-base threat, with a career OBP of .402. His power declined significantly last year, but despite below average power numbers – .114 ISO and .405 SLG – he still posted a .373 wOBA. It’s likely that Johnson regains some of his power this year, especially as a left handed batter in New Yankee Stadium, and will be worth well above his salary if he can only stay healthy – a task that should be made easier by the DH role.
The lineups that the Yankees can use with Johnson are absolutely ridiculous. Between Johnson, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees will have 3 players with a 2009 OBP over .400, and with Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, 5 players over .370.
Toss in Robinson Cano (.370 wOBA), Jorge Posada (.378 wOBA), and Curtis Granderson (.340 wOBA, .374 Fan Projected wOBA), and the Yankees can throw 8 players that are star level hitters in their everyday lineup. The last spot goes to either Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera, both of whom are average to above-average players in left field depending on their defense, and there is still the chance that the Yankees add Jason Bay or Matt Holliday.
The Yankees have put themselves in a position to be even better than last year, and they’ve managed to do it while shedding payroll and making shrewd transactions. The Red Sox and Rays should be afraid. The American League should be afraid. Baseball should be afraid. The New York Yankees are back, and they’re here to stay.