Brian Roberts and New York Yankees Agree on 1-Year Contract

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2013

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The New York Yankees have reached an agreement with veteran second baseman Brian Roberts on a one-year, $2 million deal as a part of their ongoing effort to fill the void left by Robinson Cano. 

Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirmed the official deal on Jan. 13:

#Yankees deal with Roberts for $2M is official. He gets A-Rod's 40-man roster spot

— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 13, 2014

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports first passed along word of the free-agent signing on Dec. 17:

Brian Roberts and Yankees have agreement for 1-year deal worth around $2 million plus incentives, sources tell @Ken_Rosenthal and me.

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 17, 2013

CBS Sports' Jon Heyman later confirmed:

roberts gets precisely $2M pus incentives from #yankees. @Ken_Rosenthal and @jonmorosi had story 1st

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 17, 2013

Having Cano at second base was a major advantage for the Yankees over the past nine years. They are quickly finding out that replacing him isn't easy, especially at a position where offense comes at a premium.

General manager Brian Cashman admitted he would have done the same as Cano and headed for the Seattle Mariners if $240 million was on the table, Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger reported.

Thus he explained Tuesday he understood why Robinson Cano left for the Mariners, and made "the right decision" to reject the Yankees’ overtures.

"It just comes down to, if the numbers are right, he had 240 million reasons why he should go to Seattle," Cashman said. "And if I was him, I would have done the same thing."

At least for now, it appears they will use a committee approach to replace Cano at second base. Roberts will join Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez in the mix for playing time.

The 36-year-old infielder spent his entire 13-year career with the division-rival Baltimore Orioles. As Rob Carlin of CSN Washington points out, seeing him join the Yankees will probably be tough for Orioles fans despite his lack of production in recent years.

That'll likely hurt for #Orioles fans to hear.. #OriolesTalk RT @Ken_Rosenthal: Sources: #Yankees likely to sign free-agent Brian Roberts.

— Rob Carlin (@RobCarlinCSN) December 17, 2013

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports reaction from within the Orioles organization:

Trouble in warehouse? #Roberts’ signing with #Yankees seemed to catch #Orioles by surprise. Roberts longtime fave of owner Peter Angelos.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 17, 2013

Roberts has dealt with a long list of injury issues that have limited him to fewer than 80 games in each season since 2009 (abdominal strain, concussion, hip surgery, hamstring surgery). Before that point, he was a very good offensive second baseman with career highs of 18 home runs and 50 stolen bases.

ESPN's Buster Olney provides further perspective surrounding Roberts' health concerns:

NYY will go into Brian Roberts agreement with eyes wide open: Can generate good OBP when he plays; he's played 192 games in the last 4 yrs.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 17, 2013

In a perfect world, the Yankees would see him return to that level during the one-year deal. In reality, they would be happy if he's simply able to stay healthy and provide some consistency at a position where they've been the most consistent team in baseball for nearly a decade thanks to Cano.

It's highly unlikely Roberts will ever return to pre-2010 form, but it's a low-risk move for New York that could pay off in 2014 if he comes anywhere close.