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Saturday, March 16, 2013
Boesch bound for Bronx or Scranton?

By Wallace Matthews

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are taking a calculated risk on their newest acquisition, Brennan Boesch, whose tenure in Detroit ended in somewhat unclear circumstances. Now, general manager Brian Cashman hopes the sun will shine on Boesch in the Bronx. But if not, the Yankees can always use another outfielder in Scranton.

"It's a unique circumstance where we can get a player who's played in the big leagues the last number of years," Cashman said. "But he's got options, so I signed him to a split contract. So he comes in here and gets a chance to compete. It increases our depth, it increases our choices, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Boesch's agent, Scott Boras, was eager to publicize the major-league portion of the deal: $1.5 million in salary with performance bonuses that can add another $600,000. But that's only if Boesch makes the 25-man roster. If not, the Yankees will pay him $500,000.

Brennan Boesch
Brennan Boesch has a career batting average of .259 over three big league seasons.
"I feel there's nothing but upside for us," Cashman said. "We make just a nominal investment in this player, and he does have big power from the left side. This is a game where timing can be everything, so we're just hoping maybe we get lightning in a bottle."

Boesch did not say where things went wrong for him in Detroit, although Jim Leyland left him off the postseason roster last year, and GM Dave Dombrowski chose to release him rather than send him to the minors, despite the fact that he has all his options left. Cashman said Boesch's release was "performance-based," and Joe Girardi pointed out that Boesch had lost much of his playing time last year to Andy Dirks.

"He's got a great opportunity," Girardi said. "This is a guy that played pretty well with Detroit the year that he was considered for the All-Star Game at the halfway point. We hope he's going to be a good fit."

Boesch went 0-for-3 in his first game as a Yankee, grounding out twice and striking out. He did not have a ball hit to him in right field.

"Everything's top notch over here," Boesch said. "The facility's great, and I like the atmosphere so far. Couldn't have worked out better for me."

The best-case scenario for the Yankees is that Boesch, 27, fulfills the potential Detroit saw in him as a rookie, when he hit 14 home runs and knocked in a career-high 67 runs in 2010. In that case, he could be the everyday right fielder -- Ichiro Suzuki would move to left until Curtis Granderson comes back from his broken arm -- and the Yankees will have paid him less than they are paying Joba Chamberlain.

Boesch might also serve as DH insurance for Travis Hafner, who has had back issues in the past.

Worst-case scenario is that Boesch doesn't make the club, goes to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to play rigth field, and the Yankees cobble together one corner position out of Ben Francisco, Juan Rivera, Matt Diaz and maybe a kid such as Melky Mesa.

There is also a chance that Boesch and Francisco could split one position as a lefty-righty platoon, although the lefty-hitting Boesch's career numbers versus lefties (.286/.348/.767) are better than the righty Francisco's (.252/.329/.743).

And of course, there is always the possibility that Cashman is not done searching for the solution to his temporary outfield problem.

"Towards the end of camp, we'll evaluate what we have and we'll evaluate what's available outside of our camp," Cashman said. "I think we'll have the opportunity to increase our candidates and choices and depth, and there's no harm from that.

"Gene Michael taught me to sift through the nuggets and you separate the gold from the rest of the debris. We're just trying to do as much sifting as we can and hopefully we'll run into some gold."