So far this offseason the Yankees have reacquired Nick Johnson and Javier Vazquez, two players they had previously traded away, now according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated they have added another former Yankee, outfielder Marcus Thames.
For weeks rumors persisted that the Yankees were looking to add one more right handed hitting outfielder on a minor league contract and it looks like they got their man in Thames. There is no word as to whether or not Thames got a minor league or a guaranteed major league contract yet, but you can probably assume this is of the minor league variety.
In 258 at bats last season, Thames had a 99 OPS+ including a .323 OBP and a .453 slugging percentage. Against lefties he struck out much less and walked more often although his batting average and slugging percentage were similar.
Some people are sure to be upset that the Yankees went after Thames instead of two other options, Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes. There are strikes against each of the other two though. Baldelli is a good hitter and probably the best defensively out of the three, but is almost certain to be on the DL at some point in 2010 and if that point comes down the stretch, he wouldn’t have been much help to the Yankees. Also, Gomes is probably the best hitter of the three, but a terrible defender. Thames is in the middle of the two. Not the best hitter of the group, but not the worst defender either.
If it is true that Thames was signed to a minor league contract then it is not guaranteed that he will start the season with the Yankees. He will likely compete against Jamie Hoffmann, who the Yankees got in the Rule 5 draft, as well as some other candidates like Colin Curtis and David Winfree. Curtis and Winfree are longshots, but they could make the team with a very impressive spring or if injuries occur.
Thames was originally traded in the middle of 2003 for Ruben Sierra.
Update: Via Jon Heyman we find out that Thames is going to make $900,000 plus incentives and Randy Winn signed for $1.1 million base plus incentives. There is your $2 million that Cashman had to spend.