Chris Carter and the New York Yankees are closing in on a one-year, $3 million-plus deal. Carter, who shared the National League lead in home runs in 2016 along with Nolan Arenado with 41, was non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers. Just last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Carter was considering fielding offers from teams in Japan because the market in North America was ice cold.
Carter earned $2.5 million with the Brewers in 2016 and he could provide some pop to a Yankee lineup that needs it, especially after losing Carlos Beltran (22 home runs) at the 2016 trade deadline and Brian McCann (20 home runs) to a trade with Houston this offseason.
Starlin Castro led the Yankees with 21 home runs and rookie Gary Sanchez finished with 20 in only 53 games; the signing of Carter adds even more right-handed power to the lineup. He also adds some insurance at first base, if needed. With left-handed Greg Bird returning from missing the entire 2016 campaign with a shoulder injury and Tyler Austin largely unproven, Carter could see some time at first base if they don’t play up to par. He could also share the designated hitter slot with another recently-signed player, Matt Holliday.
Carter began his career as an outfielder but hasn’t played there since the 2014 season.
In 2016, Carter struck out a National-League high 206 times in 644 plate appearances with the Brewers and hit .222/.321/.499 with 27 doubles to go along with his 41 home runs. He finished the season with a .321 OBP and played in a career-high 160 games. He is an all-or-nothing hitter, which is very clear when you look at his 2016 stats. And during his three-year stint with the Houston Astros, he struck out a total of 545 times, his career-high coming in 2012 when he struck out 212 times.
[graphiq id=”4SPEBrSpkm9″ title=”Chris Carter Career ISO and K% by Season” width=”800″ height=”596″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/4SPEBrSpkm9″ ]
According to Brooks Baseball, Carter has an “an exceptionally high likelihood to swing and miss” on fastballs, breaking balls and off-speed pitches. Last season on fastballs, his whiff/swing rate was 30 percent; against breaking balls it was 48 percent and on off-speed pitches it was a disastrous 51 percent.
On the other hand, he generates the most power on fastballs and he tends to spray the ball to all fields when he makes contact. He generates average power on breaking and off-speed pitches but again, sprays the ball to all fields.
When Yankees general Manager Brian Cashman proclaimed last month that he was 99.9 percent done with making moves this offseason, most people in and around baseball scoffed at him. If you have followed the New York Yankees long enough, you know that Cashman is never finished making moves. And this move is right up his alley. It’s low risk/high reward.
The worst case is that Carter doesn’t play well and is relegated to bench duty for a relative pittance. The best case is that he hits a bunch of home runs in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, provides much-needed right-handed pop in the Yankees’ lineup and helps out at first base and designated hitter
Either way, paying $3 million for a guy who hit 41 home runs in 2016 proved too good a deal to pass up in the Bronx.