According to Mark Carig of the Newark Star Ledger, the Bombers signed veteran outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a minor league deal.
From the Yankees: OF Kosuke Fukudome signed to a minor league contract. He is anticipated to report to Triple-A SWB over the weekend.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) July 13, 2012
Fukudome is expected to report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilks-Barre, according to Carig.
Fukudome started out 2012 with the Chicago White Sox, but after batting .171 in 24 games, he was designated for assignment by Chicago, and then was officially released on June 27.
When Fukudome came over to Major League Baseball from Japan in 2008, he had a lot of hype and media attention on him as a member of the Chicago Cubs. He was named to the National League All-Star team and finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
But so far in American baseball, Fukudome has been nothing more than a fourth or fifth outfielder (at best) with limited power; he doesn't hit for a high average, either.
Fukudome can play all three outfield spots, which can give the Yankees some versatility and defensive options if he ends up working out in the minors. If anything, with the Brett Gardner injury, the Yankees may need another outfielder they can depend on.
Just before the All-Star break, the Yankees had claimed Darnell McDonald off waivers from the Boston Red Sox, but McDonald is at best a fifth outfielder who gets put into games for defensive purposes only. McDonald hits for even less power and a worse average than Fukudome does.
Bringing in Fukudome is an under-the-radar type of move by Cashman that could work out simply on the fact that maybe the Japanese veteran can benefit from a change of scenery. Or, maybe the fact that playing in front of Yankee Stadium and for a chance at a pennant could motivate him and potentially see him begin a power surge.
Or maybe it just doesn't work out with Fukudome, and Cashman just releases him with no major harm done to the payroll.
Because of the Gardner injury situation and because he hasn't played since the middle of April, I think Cashman is adding a little insurance to his outfield. With the second half of the season, he knows Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones can't continue to go out there regularly and play the outfield since they are both up there in age.
Fukudome is 35 years old, but he has barely played in 2012, whereas Ibanez and Jones have had to accept bigger roles with the Yankees in 2012 because of Gardner's elbow injury.
Only time will tell if signing Fukudome works out for the Yankees this season. Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.