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Yankees, 2B Roberts agree to one-year deal

Published On: Dec 17 2013 10:42:54 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 17 2013 03:32:33 PM CST
Baseball home plate

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In their ongoing effort to replace the gaping hole at second base created by All-Star Robinson Cano's departure, the New York Yankees agreed to a one-year deal with former Baltimore Orioles infielder Brian Roberts.

Roberts, 36, is not considered an everyday player but in a possible platoon with Kelly Johnson and others vying to fill Cano's spot, he could offer a decent return on the team's $2 million investment.

In his prime, Roberts was a sparkplug as a leadoff man for the Orioles and a dynamite defender. But injuries have haunted him in his career. Roberts appeared in 192 of a possible 648 games over the past four seasons with Baltimore.

He was a two-time All-Star with the Orioles but since 2009 hasn't played in more than 77 games in a season.

Johnson and utility infielder Eduardo Nunez are second base options entering spring training. A streaky hitter with 124 career home runs, Johnson managed an on-base percentage of .305 in 2013. Nunez is a natural shortstop but his defense could push him into a more regular role, at least as a late-inning replacement, if manager Joe Girardi isn't getting enough out of his primary options.

New York explored trade options during the Winter Meetings and could resume shopping if the patchwork platoon fails.

Cincinnati Reds All-Star Brandon Phillips and Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez are two veterans thought to be available, but each brings with him a significant salary. Ramirez, 32, has three years and $29.5 million remaining on his deal, which expires in 2016.

Phillips' ticket is steep -- $50 million through 2017 is owed the 32-year-old. Phillips hit .261 with 18 home runs and 103 RBI in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Yankees added to their bullpen Tuesday.

Left-handed reliever Matt Thornton agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract, according multiple reports. The deal is pending a physical.

The Yankees are in need of bullpen help since Mariano Rivera retired after the season and Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan left via free agency.

Thornton, 37, was limited by injury last season, including an oblique issue, with the Boston Red Sox. He appeared in 20 games for Boston, throwing 15 1/3 innings. He was traded to the Red Sox from the Chicago White Sox last season but was left off Boston's playoff roster. He finished the season with a 3.74 ERA in 60 appearances spanning 43 1/3 innings.

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