The New York Yankees have signed veteran outfielder Kole Calhoun to a minor-league deal, the team announced on Thursday. He'll initially report to the Yankees' Florida complex league team. Once he shakes off some rust, he seems likely to join New York's Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
Calhoun, 35, spent spring training with the Seattle Mariners. His standing as an Article XX(B) free agent allowed him to opt out of his contract ahead of Opening Day once the Mariners informed him he had not made their roster.
Calhoun played for the Texas Rangers last season, putting up a disappointing 67 OPS+ in 424 trips to the plate. In the past, as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels, he's demonstrated that he's a league-average or better hitter against right-handed pitching. For his career, he's still sporting a 102 OPS+ (the product of a .243/.316/.418 slash line).
It's worth noting Calhoun's ball-tracking metrics were better than his raw line in 2022. Indeed, he ranked in the 82nd percentile in average exit velocity and in the 89th percentile in hard-hit percentage. Of course, Calhoun performed similarly well in 2021, and yet his overall line remained abysmal.
The Yankees' decision to add Calhoun comes in response to injuries to two starting big-league outfielders: Harrison Bader has been out all season with a strained oblique, while Giancarlo Stanton recently . The Yankees, in turn, have had to turn to late-spring addition Franchy Cordero and non-roster invitee Willie Calhoun to cover the gaps.
The Yankees entered Thursday with an 11-7 record on the young season, good for a tie for second place in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees will conclude their series against the Angels on Thursday afternoon before hosting the Blue Jays for a weekend set.