New York Yankees - PlayerWatch

OF Carlos Beltran signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the New York Yankees as a free agent, but the St. Louis Cardinals remained in touch with his agent even though it did not plan to offer a multi-year deal nor could it guarantee playing time with younger players like Oscar Taveras and Matt Adams available. "It would have been such a difficult fit for him," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Obviously, Carlos is playing at a very high level and expects to play every day. It would drastically change how we would have thought about some things."

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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 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.

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.