As reported last week, the Yankees officially re-signed shortstop Brendan Ryan to a two-year contract with an option for a third year. At first, it seemed like the option was a normal club option, but it's not quite that typical. (It never seems to be typical with the Yankees.)
Breakdown of Ryan pact with #Yankees $2M in '14, '15. '16 club option $2M, if not exercised becomes player option for $1M.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 2, 2013
So Ryan will earn $2 million annually over the next couple years, but the Yankees won't be completely off the hook if he becomes unplayable. The $2 million option they have on the 2016 season will actually become a $1 million player option if they decline it. While it's a couple years into the future, I can't envision any scenario in which Ryan doesn't exercise that option if the Yankees do decline that 2016 option. They would not likely be declining the option if he was still useful, since $2 million is not bad at all for a useful player. If they are declining it, that means that Ryan's game has likely gone to hell, which is certainly possible since he was benched by the fantastic Seattle Mariners this year. Quality fielding pays, I guess.
I'm sure the Yankees could always just release him and pay him the $1 million to go away despite the player option, but it still just seems like business as usual with the Yankees essentially guaranteeing money for the next three years for a guy who, again, was benched by the Mariners this year and can't hit a lick. Since turning 28 in 2010, he has had three seasons out of four with an OPS+ under 60. His fielding is excellent, but there's no hiding the fact that it would be concerning if Ryan became the everyday shortstop and continued that Stewart-esque production.
In total, $5 million is not a big deal for the Yankees and it's of course not my money. However, this better not negatively impact any payroll plans. That's my main concern with this deal. It sure seems like Plan 189 is becoming a thing of the past given the offers we've heard about for Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano in addition to the Brian McCann and Ryan contracts, but we'll just have to wait and see to know for sure.