Ensberg agrees to deal with Yankees, will compete for time at first base

Updated: January 31, 2008, 8:12 PM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN.com

Free-agent infielder Morgan Ensberg has reached agreement on a one-year contract with the New York Yankees, and will join the competition for the team's first base job in spring training.

"I'm extremely excited about it,'' Ensberg said Thursday. "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, who signed a minor-league deal, would get a $1.75 million, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster and would have a chance to earn $2.25 million more in performance bonuses. He would get the full amount if he has 525 plate appearances. The Yankees' 40-man roster is currently full, but three spots are expected to open when Carl Pavano, Humberto Sanchez and Andrew Brackman are transferred to the 60-day disabled list in March.

"He's a right-handed bat in a lineup of left-handed hitters," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "He's someone that's had success clearly in the major leagues, been an everyday player.''

Ensberg hit 36 home runs for the Houston Astros in 2005 and made the National League All-Star team. The Astros sent him to the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline last July, and he hit .230 with 12 homers in 115 games overall with the two clubs.

Ensberg has played almost exclusively at third base in the majors, but the Yankees plan to take a look at him at first base. New York currently has Jason Giambi, Shelley Duncan and Wilson Betemit in the mix.

The Tampa Bay Rays and San Francisco Giants also expressed interest in Ensberg, who became a free agent when San Diego declined to tender him a contract in December.

Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jerry Crasnick | email

ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer