The Yankees have signed Russell Branyan to a minor league deal, according to Dan Martin of the NY Post. The deal is worth $750K plus incentives if he makes the major league roster, reports Joel Sherman.
Branyan, 36, has experience at first and third base and has played in the corner outfield spots in the past, but he is brought in as a left hand hitting DH-type. He won’t, however, keep the Yankees from going after the bigger fish of Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon, or Hideki Matsui, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. It is possible that this could keep them from pursuing Eric Chavez though since Branyan has third base experience.
Branyan had a rough year for the Angels and the Diamondbacks last season with a .295 OBP and a .665 OPS. His career splits against right handed batters are impressive though as he has a .338 OBP and a .833 OPS. However, last season those numbers were down to .293 and .681 so he has clearly seen better days.
This is a good deal in that he is being invited to spring training at no risk to the Yankees. Best case scenario is that he has a good season and is part of a strong platoon with Andruw Jones, who hits lefties well. Worst case scenario, Branyan is cut after spring training at no cost to the Yankees.
Between him and Bill Hall, who was signed yesterday, the Yankees have added the two things they need, a backup third baseman and a DH. They aren’t perfect, but the cost was minimal and they provide insurance in the event the Yankees can’t trade A.J. Burnett to free up enough salary to grab better candidates.