In their first significant moves of the 2011 MLB offseason, the New York Yankees strengthened the back of their bullpen and added depth on their bench. The Yankees signed veteran starter Freddy Garcia, who was with the team last season, and utility-man Jayson Nix to one-year contracts.
Garcia, who was signed by the Yankees to a minor-league deal last winter, was very solid last season at the back end of the Yankees' rotation. In 25 starts, Garcia went 12-8 with a very respectable 3.62 ERA. His performance was sorely needed by a beleaguered starting rotation which went through a lot of inconsistency and injuries last season.
A 13-year veteran, Garcia has played for five teams in his career and although he hasn't been a star at any of his Major League stops, he has been a solid pitcher when healthy. He also knows how to win ballgames, which is shown by his career 145-95 record.
Garcia also provided a calming presence to a Yankee clubhouse which can get fractured due to the huge market New York provides.
The signing of Jayson Nix might not help the big-league Yankees as much as the Garcia signing did, but it will make an impact. Even though he normally plays the infield, specifically at second and third base, Nix has outfield experience as well.
Versatile players like Nix are needed on most MLB teams and this is why he has a shot to make the big club's 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training. In addition to being sure-handed in the field, Nix also has some power from the right side of the plate.
Nix averages one home run roughly per every 25.9 at-bats. This means that if he played a full season with around 550 at-bats, Nix would hit around 21 home runs per full season. Not too shabby for a versatile utility-man signed to a minor-league deal, huh?
To put these numbers in perspective, Nix's home-runs-per-at-bat are only .06 behind another utility-man who was moved this offseason, Ty Wigginton on the Phillies. And the Phillies had to trade for Wigginton, which shows how much of a steal this acquisition is for the Yankees.
All in all, these two moves made by the Yankees won't make or break their season.
However, they will greatly help them in their race to win another AL-East division championship in a tough battle between them, the hated Red Sox and the up-and-coming Rays. The Blue Jays are a few years away from contending and the Orioles won't be anywhere close.