Yankees happy to have Brennan Boesch, and he's happy to join them
TAMPA, Fla. -- Brennan Boesch said the news that the Tigers had released him came as a shock.
But once the only professional team Boesch had known cut him loose Wednesday, there was only one organization the 27-year-old wanted to sign with.
Referring to the Yankees, Boesch said, "When my agent [Scott Boras] told me they were interested, I said, 'Just get it done.' "
And Boras did, working with general manager Brian Cashman to hammer out a one-year deal. It will be worth $1.5 million if Boesch, who has options, makes the major-league club and $500,000 if he gets sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Boesch's major-league deal has an additional $600,000 of incentives.
"He's a lefthanded power bat, so he has a chance to be a big, hairy monster," said Cashman, using a phrase he employs to describe hitters who can hit the ball out of the park. "He can either take a run at making the club or he'll be depth. It increases our depth, it increases our choices and there's nothing wrong with that."
Cashman later said: "We're just hoping that maybe we get lightning in a bottle, so I feel there's nothing but upside."
When Curtis Granderson went down Feb. 24 and Mark Teixeira not long after that, Cashman said he first would look inward for replacements. But with major-league camps starting to wind down, players are ending up on the cutting- room floor. And just in time. The outfield options in camp, particularly in the field, haven't performed all that well.
"I told you guys toward the end of camp we'd evaluate what we have here and we'll evaluate what's available outside our camp," Cashman said. "In this past week, we've added [outfielder] Ben Francisco and now Brennan Boesch, so I think we're better for that."
Boesch, who started in rightfield and went 0-for-3 in Saturday's 7-0 loss to the Phillies in Tampa, hit .240 with a .286 on-base percentage, 12 homers and 54 RBIs last season. Boesch, who battled an oblique issue earlier in spring training but said he's over it, was hitting .188 with a .278 OBP in seven games when the Tigers released him Wednesday.
"He's getting himself out," one AL scout said. "His swing's been a complete mess. But if they can get him right, I like that swing in Yankee Stadium. I like the move."
And Boesch, 11-for-30 with one home run at the Stadium in his career, is only two years removed from 2011, when he hit .283/.341 with 16 homers and 54 RBIs. He finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year balloting in 2010, when he hit .256 with 14 homers and 67 RBIs.
"I've always been somebody that figured your talent will dictate your status and you have to earn the opportunity to play," Boesch said. "And that's what I plan on doing."
The Yankees started camp with Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz as primary contenders for the righthanded-hitting backup outfielder job, and the veterans found themselves in competition for a starting job when Granderson went down. But neither has looked overly impressive in the field, and when Teixeira got hurt, Rivera suddenly was being considered as an option at first base.
Others getting looks in the outfield in camp have been prospects Melky Mesa, a good defender who plays primarily centerfield, and Ronnier Mustelier, who has received time at third and in the outfield.
Boesch, who said he doesn't have a preference, has started 227 games in rightfield and 98 in left.
"Gene Michael taught me to sift through the nuggets, and you separate the gold from the rest of the debris," Cashman said of the former Yankees GM and current special adviser. "We're just trying to get as much sifting as we can get and we'll hopefully run into some gold."