The New York Yankees have claimed first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, according to the team's Twitter account. Ishikawa was designated for assignment by the Orioles on June 29.
Ishikawa, a left-handed hitter, will serve as Lyle Overbay's backup at first base. Because he is out of options, the Yankees cannot send him down to the minor leagues.
To make room on the 40-man roster, Kevin Youkilis was moved to the 60-day disabled list. To make room on the 25-man roster, Mike Axisa of RiverAveBlues.com opines that David Adams could be sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Alberto Gonzalez is also a candidate to be sent down, as the emergence of Luis Cruz as a viable option makes Gonzalez expendable.
Ishikawa has played for three teams throughout his six-year major league career. He began with the San Francisco Giants, playing briefly in 2006 and then saw semi-regular playing time from 2008-10. During his time there, he hit .265/.327/.400 with 15 home runs and 80 RBI.
After not seeing time in the bigs in 2011, Ishikawa played 94 games with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012. He hit .257/.329/.428 over 152 at-bats, clearing the fences four times and driving in 30 runs.
As a member of the Orioles in 2013, Ishikawa struggled to find playing time and success. He recorded just two hits in 17 at-bats over the course of six games.
Adding another lefty hitter behind Overbay is an interesting decision by general manager Brian Cashman. If he wanted to set up a platoon, then he should have acquired a right-handed bat. The acquisition of Ishikawa would suggest, then, that Cashman is not comfortable with Adams being the primary reserve at first.
Acquiring Ishikawa also gives the team an excuse to send the scuffling Adams back down. He'll get regular playing time in the minors and can work out the kinks in his swing that have hampered his recent production.
A World Series champion in 2010 with the Giants, Ishikawa will not be a free agent until 2016 and could find a new home with the Yankees beyond this season if he produces when called upon.