The Yankees have signed utility player José Rojas to a minor league deal, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The deal for the Warner Sports Management client includes an invite to major league camp. Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports that Rojas would make $750K in the majors and $180K in the minors.
Rojas, 31, is returning to North America on the heels of a strong showing in Korea. He signed with the Doosan Bears of the KBO League for the 2023 season and appeared in 122 games for that club. He hit 19 home runs while drawing a walk in 11.9% of his 464 plate appearances, striking out in just 14.7% of them. His .253/.345/.474 batting line translated to a 126 wRC+, indicating he was 26% better than the league average hitter.
Prior to heading overseas, Rojas had put together a solid body of work at the Triple-A level but hadn’t been able to carry that up to the big leagues. He got into 83 games with the Angels between 2021 and 2022 but hit .188/.245/.339 in those. At the top minor league level, he hit .277/.343/.525 across four different seasons.
On the defensive side of things, Rojas has bounced all around. He has suited up at the three non-shortstop infield positions as well as the outfield corners. The Yankees were snakebit by injuries in 2023 and will go into the upcoming season with some of those concerns lingering. Rojas likely won’t have an easy path to playing time in the outfield corners, where Aaron Judge, Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo will be sharing the playing time.
The infield corners are projected to be taken by Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu, both of whom dealt with health concerns last year and are now into their mid-30s. Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, Jeter Downs and Jorbit Vivas are on the roster but the Yanks clearly feel a bit of non-roster depth is warranted. They have signed Kevin Smith and Josh VanMeter to minor league deals in recent weeks and now Rojas is on the list as well. If Rojas gets selected to the roster at any point, he still has one option year remaining.