Rays free agent Kelly Johnson has hit 16 home runs in each of the past two seasons. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
The New York Yankees are reportedly "on the brink" of signing Tampa Bay Rays free agent Kelly Johnson as insurance if Robinson Cano ultimately decides to play elsewhere next season.
According to a report Wednesday morning from Joel Sherman of The New York Post, the Yankees are close to a one-year deal with Johnson that would pay him between $2.75 million and $3 million, a slight bump up from the $2.45 million he made on the one-year deal he had with Tampa Bay last season. Even if Cano returns, Sherman reports that Johnson would be used "around the diamond" as a utility player, having previously started games at first, third and left field as well.
The 31-year-old hit 16 home runs in each of the past two seasons -- in 2012 for the Toronto Blue Jays and last season for the Rays. He hit .235 last season with a .715 OPS.
Detroit Tigers free agent Omar Infante has also been identified as a possible replacement for Cano, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN.
In latest reports, Cano is asking for a nine-year, $252 million contract with a vesting option for a 10th year at $28 million. The Yankees have said they will not pay Cano a deal that's in the $200 million range, instead having reportedly offered him a deal that would keep him in New York for seven years and $160 million.
A spokesman for the five-time All-Star said Tuesday that he had a "big, big meeting" that day amid a report that the Seattle Mariners had emerged as a "major player" in the sweepstakes for the Yankees free agent second baseman.