KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
Last year’s National League home run co-leader found a new home on Tuesday when Chris Carter agreed to a deal with the New York Yankees.
Carter accepted a $3.5 million, one-year contract, which is subject to a successful physical. The deal includes a $500,000 signing bonus, a $3 million salary and $500,000 in performance bonuses: $100,000 each for 250, 300, 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances.
“I am excited to go play for a bigger market team with more national exposure,” Carter said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Carter, whose career-high 41 home runs last season matched Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for tops in the NL, became a free agent in December when Milwaukee failed to offer a 2017 contract.
Carter hit .222 with a career-best 94 RBIs while appearing in a NL-leading 160 games last season. He played 155 games at first base in his first year in the NL after spending the first six years of his career in the American League with Oakland and Houston. Carter’s 27 doubles, 122 hits, 76 walks and 84 runs scored last season were also career-highs, but he struck out 206 times.
It’s unclear how the Yankees will use the 30-year-old Carter; left-handed-hitting Greg Bird expected to play first and Matt Holliday likely to be the regular designated hitter. Seeking right-handed bats to balance a batting order dependent on lefty power, the Yankees agreed earlier this offseason to a $13 million, one-year contact with Holliday.
Carter spent the majority of the last two seasons playing first base but spent 120 games at DH for the Astros in 2014.
“I’m ready for whatever role they give me,” he said. “I know they have Holliday and I know Bird’s there, so I’m looking to help the team in way I can.”
It’s been a tough few months of uncertainty for Carter, who hit 102 homers in the last three seasons.
“It’s definitely been tough having to wait this long in the offseason when spring training is so close,” he said. “I’m glad to have this out of the way now so I can get out there at spring training and have a team and be out there with the guys.”
Carter’s successful 2016 season came after a difficult 2015 when he hit just .199 for the Astros with 24 homers and 64 RBIs.
“After bouncing back last year I’m looking to having a better season and contributing to my new team,” he said.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Carter was a 15th-round pick of the White Sox in 2005. He was traded to the Diamondbacks in December 2007, dealt to the Athletics later that month and made his major league debut with Oakland in 2010.
He was traded to Houston in 2013 and he hit 29 homers with 82 RBIs that season before tying for second in the majors with 37 homers and had 88 RBIs the following season.
Carter was benched in the summer of 2015 before working his way back into the Astros lineup and hitting .344 in September to help Houston earn the second AL wild-card spot, its first postseason berth since 2005. He was also solid for the Astros in the ALDS before they were eliminated by the Royals, hitting .294 with a double, a homer and an RBI.
Carter started at first base in each of Houston’s six playoff games and was a triple shy of the cycle in Game 3 of the ALDS when he finished 3 for 3 with one RBI and two runs scored.
He is a career .218 hitter with 150 homers, 102 doubles and 374 RBIs.
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