The Yankees announced today they have signed David Aardsma, a 30-year-old righty who saved 69 games in 2009 and 2010 for the Seattle Mariners but did not pitch last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery last July 22.
Brian Cashman, who just announced the deal in the Yankees clubhouse, called the signing "an R&D move'' -- for Research & Development -- meaning Aardsma, who will immediately be placed on the DL, is targeted more for next year than this season, although the GM did not rule out the possibility that Aardsma could pitch in the second half of the 2012 season.
"He's about a month behind Joba,'' Cashman said, referring to Joba Chamberlain, who had his surgery last June. "He's a guy who could help us this year, but who we expect to help us next year.''
Cashman compared the signing of Aardsma to the signing in 2003 of Jon Lieber, who recovered to win 14 games for the Yankees in 2004. Aardsma will be paid $500,000 for this season with incentives if he makes it to the big leagues.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained,'' Cashman said. "He's a power arm we picked up for $100,000 over the minimum (salary) and we feel it could have a nice payoff down the road.''
Cashman said the stockpiling of bullpen arms has nothing to do with the possibility that Mariano Rivera will retire at the end of this season. "This was in the works long before that,'' he said.
To make room for Aardsma on the 40-man roster, Pedro Feliciano, rehabbing from shoulder surgery, was moved to the 60-day disabled list, which is also Aardsma's ultimate destination in order to make room on the roster for Eric Chavez once his deal becomes official. Cashman said Aardsma will join the Yankees in camp on Monday.
UPDATE: Here is the Aardsma release:
The New York Yankees today announced they have signed right-handed pitcher David Aardsma to a one-year Major League contract with a club option for 2013.
Aardsma, 30, has made 254 career relief appearances over parts of six Major League seasons with San Francisco (2004), Chicago-NL (2006), Chicago-AL (2007), Boston (2008) and Seattle (2009-10), going 13-15 with a 4.20 ERA (265.2 IP, 124 ER).
He began the 2011 season on the 15-day disabled list recovering from labral left hip surgery, which was performed on January 3, 2011. He made a brief rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma from April 19-29, before having his rehab halted with right arm soreness. He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on June 13 and underwent “Tommy John” surgery in July, missing the remainder of the season.
From 2009-10, the right-hander ranked fifth in the American League with 69 saves, trailing Mariano Rivera (77), Jonathan Papelbon (75), Joakim Soria (73) and Brian Fuentes (72). With 38 saves in 2009 and 31 in 2010, he became just the fourth pitcher in Mariners history to record multiple 30-save seasons. Overall, he has converted 69-of-83 (83.1%) career save opportunities.
The Colorado native was originally selected by San Francisco in the first round (22nd overall pick) of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
In a corresponding move, the Yankees placed LHP Pedro Feliciano on the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster.