Yanks sign Ensberg to Minors deal
Veteran inks pact hoping to compete for first-base job
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have another contender for their crowded first-base mix, signing Morgan Ensberg to a Minor League contract on Thursday with an invitation to Spring Training.
"I'm extremely excited about it," Ensberg told ESPN.com. "It's a great team and a great lineup. Most importantly, it's a team that's consistently playing for a World Series. After you've been in the league for a few years, you really start valuing that pursuit."
Ensberg, 32, split last season between the Houston Astros and the San Diego Padres. He has primarily played third base in his career, but the Yankees would be looking at him as a first baseman, where he played one game with San Diego last August.
"We're optimistic," Joe Sambito, Ensberg's agent, said in a telephone interview. "We had other options, but I think it speaks to how we feel about the Yankees that we decided to sign with them. It's an opportunity for Morgan to play for a great organization and franchise."
New York already has Jason Giambi, Shelley Duncan and Wilson Betemit on its 40-man roster vying to be the Opening Day first baseman, and the Yankees also signed Ensberg's former Houston teammate, Jason Lane, to a Minor League deal in December.
Sambito said that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman also showed interest in acquiring Ensberg at the trade deadline last season. The Astros eventually moved Ensberg to the Padres on July 31 with cash for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
With San Diego, Ensberg finished his season batting .230 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 115 games. A .265 hitter in 703 Major League games, Ensberg's best season came in 2005, when he batted .283 with 36 home runs and 101 RBIs for the National League champion Astros, earning his only All-Star selection.
Despite his recent struggles, Ensberg could be valuable for the Yankees in that he hits left-handed pitching well. He owns a .284 average, 35 homers and 95 RBIs in 560 career at-bats against southpaws.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.