Roberts, 36, is not considered an everyday player, but he could platoon with Kelly Johnson and others vying to fill Cano's spot. He also arrives for a relatively low price -- particularly in comparison with Cano's new 10-year, $240 million deal.
In his prime, Roberts was a sparkplug as a leadoff man for the Orioles and a dynamite defender. However, injuries have haunted him in his career. Roberts appeared in 192 of a possible 648 games over the past four seasons with Baltimore.
He was a two-time All-Star with the Orioles, but he hasn't played in more than 77 games in a season since 2009.
Johnson and utility infielder Eduardo Nunez are the other second base options entering spring training. A streaky hitter with 124 career home runs, Johnson managed an on-base percentage of .305 in 2013. Nunez is a natural shortstop but his defense could push him into a more regular role, at least as a late-inning replacement, if manager Joe Girardi isn't getting enough out of his primary options.
New York explored trade options during the winter meetings and could resume shopping if the patchwork platoon fails.
Cincinnati Reds All-Star Brandon Phillips and Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez are two veterans thought to be available, but each brings with him a significant salary. Ramirez, 32, has three years and $29.5 million remaining on his deal, which expires in 2016.
Phillips' ticket is steep -- $50 million through 2017 is owed the 32-year-old. Phillips hit .261 with 18 home runs and 103 RBI in 2013.
--LHP Matt Thornton agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract with the Yankees on Dec. 17, according multiple reports. The deal is pending a physical.
Thornton, 37, was limited by injury late last season, including an oblique issue, while with the Boston Red Sox. He appeared in 20 games for Boston, throwing 15 1/3 innings. He acquired by the Red Sox from the Chicago White Sox last season but was left off Boston's playoff roster. He finished the year with a 3.74 ERA in 60 appearances spanning 43 1/3 innings.
--C Brian McCann, who has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last six seasons, was inked to a five-year contract worth $85 million and should provide an immense upgrade over last year's backstop trio of Chris Stewart, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli. "Brian McCann's been one of the game's great catchers," GM Brian Cashman said. "We're hoping that he will be able to continue the type of production both on the offensive and defensive side that he provided in Atlanta. And if he can continue to do that, you're talking about a potential Hall of Famer."
--OF Jacoby Ellsbury, who led the American League in stolen bases last season (52), defected from the rival Red Sox to become the Yankees' new center fielder, agreeing to a seven-year deal worth $153 million. Ellsbury finished second in AL MVP voting in 2011, when he hit .321 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs, but he has totaled just 33 home runs combined in his other six injury-plagued campaigns.
--OF Carlos Beltran came close to becoming a Yankee in two previous cracks at free agency, but the eight-time All-Star finally has made it to the Bronx with a three-year deal worth $45 million. Beltran batted .296 with 24 homers and an .830 OPS last season with St. Louis. He also is a .333 career hitter with 16 home runs in 180 career postseason at-bats.
--RHP Hiroki Kuroda decided to come back for another year, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $16 million. Kuroda, 38, faded late last season following a strong start, finishing 11-13 with a 3.31 ERA in 32 starts.
--SS Brendan Ryan, whom the Yankees acquired from Seattle in September of last season, was re-signed to a two-year contract worth $5 million as insurance while Derek Jeter comes back from an ankle injury. Ryan, known more for his glove than his bat, likely will man shortstop on the days when the 39-year-old Jeter takes off or is used as a designated hitter.
--2B Kelly Johnson was signed for a utility role, inking a one-year deal worth nearly $3 million. Johnson, who hit 16 home runs last season for Tampa Bay, could see time at second base, third base and the outfield.
--OF Brett Gardner will be shifted from center to left field with CF Jacoby Ellsbury's arrival, unless the speedy outfielder is used in a trade for pitching or a second baseman.
--3B Alex Rodriguez was still awaiting word as of mid-December on the appeal of a 211-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis/PED scandal.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Yeah he's happy. Wouldn't you be happy? That's a lot of money. I've been paying for breakfast, lunch and dinner all these years -- he gets paid and he leaves. I would have liked to have played with him longer but you understand it's a business, guys move on." -- SS Derek Jeter, on 2B Robinson Cano signing with Seattle for 10 years and $240 million.
So much of the Yankees' offseason approach hinged on their ability to re-sign All-Star 2B Robinson Cano. But whether he re-signed or left, it figured to be an incredibly busy offseason for GM Brian Cashman. Cano's departure leaves a huge hole at second base, although the signing of OFs Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran will minimize his loss offensively.
BIGGEST NEEDS: The Yankees need to import a stopgap for suspended Alex Rodriguez at third base and at least one more starting pitcher to replace retired LHP Andy Pettitte and departed RHP Phil Hughes, after re-signing RHP Hiroki Kuroda. They also still need to determine a replacement for RHP Mariano Rivera.
ARRIVALS: C Brian McCann (free agent from Braves), CF Jacoby Ellsbury (free agent from Red Sox), 2B Kelly Johnson (free agent from Rays), OF Carlos Beltran (free agent from Cardinals), LHP Matt Thornton (free agent from Red Sox), 2B Brian Roberts (free agent from Orioles)
DEPARTURES: 2B Robinson Cano (free agent, signed with Mariners), LHP Andy Pettitte (retired), RHP Mariano Rivera (retired), OF Curtis Granderson (free agent, signed with Mets), RHP Phil Hughes (free agent, signed with Twins), C Chris Stewart (traded to Pirates), RHP Joba Chamberlain (free agent, signed with Tigers), LHP Boone Logan (free agent, signed with Rockies), INF David Adams (non-tendered, signed with Indians)
FREE AGENTS: DH Travis Hafner, 1B Lyle Overbay, 1B/3B Mark Reynolds, 3B/1B Kevin Youkilis, INF Jayson Nix, RHP Matt Daley
Youkilis was signed to a one-year deal to fill in for 3B Alex Rodriguez and 1B Mark Teixeira, but he wound up missing most of the season due to injury. He or Reynolds still could be re-signed again as a third base fill-in should Rodriguez's suspension be upheld.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: OF Brett Gardner, RHP Shawn Kelley, RHP David Robertson
Robertson is expected to be given the first crack at replacing Rivera, as the Yankees will have a new primary closer for the first time since 1997.
--LHP CC Sabathia (strained left hamstring) missed the last week of the season. The injury is considered minor, and he'll be ready by spring training.
--C Austin Romine (concussion) sat out the season's final three weeks because he continued to experience symptoms.
--SS Derek Jeter (sore left ankle) will be ready for spring training following an injury-plagued season.
--3B Kevin Youkilis (back surgery in June 2013) had a herniated disk repaired. He is expected to be ready for spring training.
--1B Mark Teixeira (right wrist surgery in July 2013) should be ready to go by spring training.
--C Francisco Cervelli (fractured right hand, stress reaction in right elbow) will be ready for spring training.
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