Yankees sign Russ Canzler to a minor league deal

US PRESSWIRE

The Yankees have signed minor league free agent Russ Canzler. You might remember Canzler from when the team claimed him off waivers back in January from the Indians and then subsequently lost him to the Orioles after he was designated for assignment. Now the right-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder will be under the Yankees' control and technically won't be arbitration eligible until 2017.

The 27-year-old has only played in 29 major league games with 102 plate appearances between 2011, with the Rays, and 2012, with the Indians, where he accumulated a .271/.304/.396 batting line. However, in 30 at-bats against lefty pitching he's collected 12 hits with two home runs and a walk.

Yankees' fans were especially distraught about Canzler being designated for assignment before spring training because he represented a potential upgrade against lefties off the bench. In 2013, he ended up hitting .252/.343/.376 with 12 home runs stretched between the Orioles' and Pirates' Triple-A affiliates, but against lefties he hit a monstrous .327/.438/.617 in 107 at-bats. He previously had an .860 OPS against them in 2012 and a .921 OPS against them in 2011 as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees ended up hitting just .244/.313/.363 against lefties this season.

Though he has primarily played first base and left field in his career, he has also played in 140 games minor league games at third base. The Yankees might want to see if he can actually play the position, like they did with Ronnier Mustelier last spring. That being said, they likely see him as a bat off the bench against lefties and perhaps a backup plan in case Mark Teixeira isn't as healthy as he should be. Most likely, however, he'll end up in Triple-A as Scranton's everyday first baseman, if he lasts that long in the organization this time.

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