Kevin Youkilis signed a one-year contract with the New York Yankees, giving the team an established third baseman with Alex Rodriguez facing six months of recovery from hip injury.
Ichiro Suzuki is close to returning to the Yankees, completing the terms of a new contract that would keep the outfielder in New York for the next two seasons, ESPN said.
The Yankees didn’t disclose financial terms of Youkilis’s free-agent contract in a statement. The deal is worth $12 million, MLB.com reported yesterday, without saying where it got the information.
Youkilis, 33, helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 before being traded to the Chicago White Sox last June.
He’s a .283 hitter with 148 home runs, 610 runs batted in and 531 walks during his nine-year Major League Baseball career. Youkilis’s .385 on-base percentage ranks fourth in the American League from 2008 to 2012, and the 4.3 pitches he’s seen per plate appearance is second among active major-leaguers, behind Jayson Werth of the Washington Nationals.
An experienced first and third baseman, Youkilis played 111 games at third last season and 112 in 2011. Rodriguez will probably miss the first three months of the 2013 season because of a hip injury that will require surgery in January.
Suzuki, 39, will take less money than he was offered by other teams and sign a two-year deal worth a total of between $12 million and $13 million, ESPN said, citing an unidentified person in baseball who was briefed on the negotiations.
An All-Star every year from 2001 to 2010 while playing for the Seattle Mariners, Suzuki was traded to New York in July, hitting .322 with five home runs, 27 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 67 games with the Yankees.
After accumulating 1,278 hits playing for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan’s Pacific League, Suzuki has 2,606 major-league hits since joining the Mariners in 2001, leaving him 394 from joining Major League Baseball’s 3,000-hit club, of which there are 28 members. He’s had 10 200-hit seasons, a record, the most recent in 2010. He had 178 hits last season.
Suzuki is a career .322 batter in the major leagues with 104 homers, 660 RBI and 452 stolen bases.
The Yankees have been limiting new contracts this offseason to one year as the club tries to get below a $189 million payroll threshold for 2014, which would save it millions in luxury tax payments. Pitchers Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda and outfielder Brett Gardner all agreed on one-year deals, while catcher Russell Martin signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, leaving New York.