NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran's longtime dream of one day donning Yankees pinstripes officially became a reality on Friday morning, when the Yanks introduced their latest offseason addition in a news conference at Yankee Stadium.
Beltran, who signed a three-year deal reportedly worth $45 million,
was joined by his wife, Jessica, and daughters, Kiara and Ivana, as the
Yankees unveiled their newest outfielder by presenting him with a jersey
with the No. 36 on the back.
Beltran not only grew up a Yankees fan, but also offered the Bronx
Bombers his services at a discounted rate during a previous go-around in
free agency following the 2004 season. The Yanks passed on signing
Beltran at the time, thanks largely to the fact that one of Beltran's
all-time favorite players, Bernie Williams, was still patrolling center
field in New York. Beltran ultimately struck a deal with the crosstown
rival Mets, where he spent most of the next seven seasons.
This time around, however, things seemed to be a much better fit for both sides.
"For me, it's a great honor to be able to come back to this city
where I was a long time ago," Beltran said. "I learned about the city,
learned about everything, and having the opportunity to come back again
as a Yankee really means a lot to me."
An eight-time All-Star, Beltran's signing marked the Yankees' third
marquee offensive addition this offseason -- and second in the outfield
alone. Along with the switch-hitting Beltran, the Yankees have also
added left-handed hitters Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, giving manager Joe Girardi plenty of balance up and down the lineup.
The trio also brings with it a wealth of postseason experience.
Ellsbury is coming off a championship run with the Red Sox, who defeated
Beltran's Cardinals in the World Series. Together, the three have 101
games of postseason experience, including 51 for Beltran himself.
"To be able to add another switch-hitter to the middle of our order
gives me so much flexibility," Girardi said.
"We've talked about it --
at times we had trouble scoring runs last year. But our lineup has
gotten so much deeper with guys who hit the ball out of the ballpark,
get on base, hit for average and grind out at-bats.
"We all know the success that Carlos has had in his career and the
success in the postseason and I'm really looking forward to October with
our new player, Carlos Beltran."
Beltran's deal came as a direct response to Robinson Cano's
decision to leave the Yankees earlier this month for a 10-year, $240
million offer from the Mariners. Beltran also inked his previous deal on
the heels of a star player being lured away for an identical 10-year,
$240 million deal when Albert Pujols left the Cardinals to sign with the Angels.
"Last year I went to St. Louis and a lot of people thought, 'Well,
he's going to replace Pujols,'" Beltran said.
"There's not many players
that can replace Pujols, you know? He's one of a kind. Cano is one of a
kind, like myself. We have to understand our jobs as individuals and go
out there and play the game."
The Yankees wasted no time reloading in the wake of Cano's departure
and Beltran is confident that his latest deal will bring him his first
"With the signings of Ellsbury, McCann, myself and the players we
already we have," Beltran said, "I believe that we have a good team that
can go all the way. I believe that."
At 36, Beltran's deal certainly has a share of risk involved,
especially considering his past knee issues. The slugger was limited to
just 145 combined games from 2009-10, but has played in at least 142 in
each of the past three seasons, all of which came in the National League
-- without the luxury of being used as a designated hitter.
Despite the Yankees' injury woes from a season ago, general manager
Brian Cashman said this was a risk certainly worth taking. It also helps
that the Yankees now have four capable starting outfielders in
Ellsbury, Beltran, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano,
giving Girardi the ability to plug in Beltran as the designated hitter
whenever he feels the 16-year veteran could use some added rest.
"As we move forward, we'll have a little bit more ability to protect
him, because of the DH spot," Cashman said. "And I hope we have the same
results the Cardinals had the last couple years. But yeah, there's some
risk there with the knees, but we knew that going in."
Though coy about any specific moves, Cashman added that the Yankees
are looking to improve in certain areas, particularly starting pitching,
ahead of Opening Day.
"We have some more stuff to do," Cashman said. "We had a lot of holes
and we've been addressing them slowly, from my perspective. But there's
still some questions to be answered."
As for Beltran, he reiterated that playing in the Bronx will be a
dream come true, regardless of what other moves may or may not come to
fruition. After all, he feels strongly that his pursuit of that elusive
World Series ring will finally be realized in Yankee pinstripes.
"As a player and, first of all as a fan, I used to look up at this
organization because they always did what it takes to put good teams out
there and win championships," Beltran said. "As a player, you always
want to join an organization where you're going to have an opportunity
to win a championship."