The Rundown: Yankees Sign Chris Carter to Monster Early-90’s Deal, Cogs and Former Cubs Rivals Find New Homes

After lamenting that his client might have to head to Japan in order to find gainful employment, assistant GM-turned-pitching coach-turned-assistant GM-turned-pitching coach-turned-agent-turned-GM-turned-agent Dave Stewart was able to score a monster $3.5 million deal for NL home run champ Chris Carter. This is 1990, right?

Carter, a masher who has hit at least 24 home runs in every full season he’s played, will be joining his fifth team since 2010 after the Brewers non-tendered him rather than pony up what was expected to be $8 million in arbitration. They might have thought otherwise if this really was pre-1998 and they could have slotted Carter in as a DH. But when you have to field a guy in order to have him in the lineup, he ain’t that one.

Carter’s been a weak link in the defensive chain over the course of his career, and that’s putting it mildly. While first base has been his best position, all things considered, his -19 defensive runs saved ranks him 52nd among all players who’ve logged at least 1,000 innings there since 2011. And outside of the longball, his offensive numbers aren’t much better.

The 64.9% contact rate, 15.9% swinging-strike rate, and 33.1% strikeout rate are all pretty awful, though the power potential helps to mitigate them to a large extent. If you prefer more traditional stats, how ’bout that .218 batting average. Carter has generated a wRC+ of at least 104 in each of the last five seasons, though, and his 0.98 WAR average over that time means he should easily make good on the new deal.

Keeping the slugger off the field would actually increase his value to the Yanks, but they may have to put him out there quite a bit because they’ve got another awful-glove/good-bat player occupying the primary DH role. As you may recall, Matt Holliday is also in New York. So is Greg Bird. And Tyler Austin, though he’s still got options. Gonna be difficult for the new guy to make those plate-appearance bonuses with that glut.

Carter isn’t a very good hitter, but having him out of the NL Central is good for the Cubs because it eliminates one more possibility that a mistake will cost you a game to a team you should beat easily.

That was the highest-profile signing, but there were a few other moves involving players Cubs fans will be familiar with:

  • Chris Coghlan‘s official deal with the Phillies includes a $3 million major league salary with $1 million in incentives. In other words, he’ll earn more than Carter if he makes the roster in Philly.
  • Former Cardinal Daniel Descalso signed a one-year deal with the D-backs worth at least $1.5 million
  • Remember when Drew Stubbs was the Next Big Thing in Cincy? His production has fallen off significantly over the past couple years, but he’s hoping to make the most of a minor league deal and invite to Twins Spring Training.
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