Yankees' newest signing posts adorable childhood photo ahead of Bronx homecoming

It's always nice to snag someone who wants to be here.

Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics
Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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The Yankees recently clogged their 40-man roster with flyers, just a few weeks after having an open enough door to facilitate the Dodgers' blockbuster Shohei Ohtani signing by taking on Jorbit Vivas.

That means any future big-league additions will require a corresponding move knocking someone off the 40-man roster: likely Matt Krook, Oscar González, Jeter Downs or speedster Bubba Thompson, who joined the program last week.

In the meantime, it'll be minor-league signings for the Yankees, which will help flesh out their Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club. Ideally, those depth pieces have recent big-league experience, as well as something innate -- maybe from way back in their childhood -- that makes them want to succeed in pinstripes.

Enter Kevin Smith, a former Blue Jays/A's infielder who was traded in March 2022 as part of the package that sent Matt Chapman to Toronto. While Chapman will likely be lacing 'em up outside the AL East in 2024 and beyond (how have the Giants not, uh, done that yet?), Smith has a shot to make an impact in the division.

The infielder announced a (minor-league) Yankees pact on Monday afternoon by posting an adorable photo indicating he was "heading home." In terms of garnering fan support at the margins of the roster, something like that could make all the difference.

Yankees sign infielder Kevin Smith to likely minor-league deal

Now, it's a matter of whose story tugs more heartstrings: Smith and his pumpkin patch, or Downs and his historic first name/ex-Red Sox status?

Smith hasn't done much damage in the bigs, to this point, racking up 51 and 54 OPS+ marks the past two seasons. The ex-Maryland Terp typically rakes in the minors, though, and found his footing at Triple-A Last Vegas last season. The Triple-A PCL has always represented a heightened offensive environment, and Smith will have a challenge going back to ground level in Western Pennsylvania next summer, but .324 with 16 homers and a 1.025 OPS in 42 games certainly represents a notable stat line.

Smith will have to mash to carve out a role in New York, especially considering his right-handedness and previous struggles, but he'll have the carrot of a childhood dream out ahead of him the whole way. That's got to count for something.

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