The deal is pending a physical, but is pretty much done.
This is a great move for the Yankees. While Nick Johnson will be limited to a designated hitter role on this Yankees team, I see that as a good thing. There is no doubt that this will increase the odds that he can stay healthy for the entire season.
Just look at what being a full-time DH did for Hideki Matsui last season. His knees are an absolute trainwreck, and being a full-time DH allowed him to stay healthy for the majority of the season. There really is no doubt about that.
The signing seems like a perfect fit for both parties. The Yankees get a professional hitter who does not have to risk injury by playing in the field, and Johnson gets the chance to boost his numbers by batting in a hitter-friendly stadium at the top of a powerful lineup.
In 2009, Nick Johnson had the third highest on-base percentage in the majors, behind Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols. With Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez hitting behind him, Johnson is a sure bet to score a lot of runs.
For the Yankees, it was a no-brainer as well. They are paying him less than $6 million, a bargain for a player of Johnson's caliber. I see him as the best designated hitter option on the market and the third best free agent hitter after Jason Bay and Matt Holliday (both who would require monstrous contracts), so he is the perfect option for the Yankees at DH.
The argument against this move is that the Yankees should have just brought Matsui back if they were going to have a full-time DH. While this is a fair opinion, Matsui wanted to play the field, and that was not going to happen with the Yankees. In fact, part of the reason he signed with the Angels was because they promised him some playing time in left field.
Past that issue, Nick Johnson is a better overall hitter and a better fit for the Yankees lineup. Putting him in the two-hole upgrades the Yankees' lineup from 2009, as he gets on base at a much higher clip than Johnny Damon.
Much of Johnson's power was sapped by wrist problems in 2009, which does remain a concern. A year of healing plus bringing his bat to the short porch in right field may do a lot to replenish his power. If not, he's a sure bet to post an OBP over .390 anyway.
Nick Johnson was the perfect fit at DH for the Yankees, and Brian Cashman got him at a bargain rate. The Yankees added the best DH available on the market and improved themselves for 2010.