Yankees acquire Berkman from Astros
New York sends pitcher Melancon, infielder Paredes to Houston
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees acquired Lance Berkman from the Astros to serve as their designated hitter for the remainder of the season on Saturday.
New York dealt right-handed pitcher Mark Melancon and Minor League infielder Jimmy Paredes to Houston. The Bombers also received cash as part of the trade.
With Nick Johnson out indefinitely, the Yankees have used their designated-hitter spot as a revolving door of sorts, allowing manager Joe Girardi to spell his veterans without taking their bats completely out of the lineup.
But New York's production -- already fueling the Majors' best record entering play Saturday -- is receiving a boost with the switch-hitting Berkman, a five-time All-Star who has played his entire career with Houston and is now faced with a severe change in scenery.
"I'm a little nervous, a little apprehensive about this whole thing," Berkman said in Houston. "I'm from Texas. Heck, I played at Rice. This city is like the womb. I feel comfortable here, and to think about the possibility of going anywhere else is kind of scary.
"My ideal situation is to win a title here. If this organization feels those aims are better accomplished by trying to strip down this roster and reload with some younger guys, I don't want to stay in the way of that."
Berkman is in uniform against the Rays and batting second on Saturday. The Yankees did finalize another deal late Friday, acquiring outfielder Austin Kearns from the Indians in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
"That's great, because we're a team that's all about winning and anyone who can come in here and help us score more runs," said New York's Mark Teixeira. "[They are] two quality guys. I know both real well. They're great guys, and it's going to be great for this clubhouse."
With the Yankees, Berkman figures to see limited time behind Teixeira at first base and little, if any, in the outfield. He essentially could fill the role that was envisioned for Johnson before he was lost in early May to an inflamed right wrist tendon that the team fears may be season-ending.
|"I never thought I would be in this position, never had to go through it."|
-- Lance Berkman|
Girardi declined to say Friday if a bat had appeared on his wish list in conversations with general manager Brian Cashman, saying that it could drive up the asking price from other clubs as Saturday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline draws near.
But Girardi acknowledged that adding another hitter could change the landscape of how New York uses the DH.
Jorge Posada has had the most plate appearances as a designated hitter for the Yankees this season, logging 101, while Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Teixeira and Nick Swisher have also enjoyed considerable time.
"We've used [the DH] to rotate our guys and try to keep our guys fresh, but if we have an everyday guy, we have an everyday guy," Girardi said. "I can't tell you what's going to happen, but it has helped giving Alex a half-day and Jeet a half-day, and Tex and Swish. But if you get an everyday guy that can swing it, that could help our club. ... However we can improve our club, I'm all for it."
Berkman said he had spoken to his close friend Andy Pettitte about coming to New York, which might have helped in the process of approving a deal.
Berkman has a full no-trade clause, but he was approached by Astros general manager Ed Wade a couple of days ago with a list of eight teams he might be traded to. Berkman approved four, and one was the Yankees.
"[Wade] approached me with a list of teams two days ago, I guess, and there was probably eight teams that expressed some interest and there was four yays and four nays, and we'll kind of go from there," Berkman said in Houston, adding that he didn't consider any teams on the West Coast.
Berkman is making $14.5 million this season and has a $15 million club option for the 2011 season, with a $2 million buyout, but he said if he were traded, he wouldn't want to have it picked up by the new team. Berkman would not say if a deal had been completed Friday.
"There is some discussion," Berkman said. "We're not at the finish line yet."
Coming off knee surgery in March, Berkman is batting .245 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs in 85 games. He is among the Astros' all-time leaders in batting average, homers and RBIs.
"I never thought I would be in this position; never had to go through it," Berkman said. "It's unsettling because you just don't know what's going to happen and there's all sorts of possibilities. I guess in one sense it's good, because there's teams that want me to play for them, particularly in a down season."
Berkman said he feels he has a couple of more years left to play and would be open to returning to Houston. In the meantime, Teixeira said that the Yankees will welcome the additional Deadline help with open arms.
"Not one guy has to carry this team, and that's the great thing about the Yankees," Teixeira said. "They're always going to do what it takes to win and you see it today getting two players like that.
"It's great. The Yankees fans deserve it and the city of New York deserves a winner every year. That's what we're trying to give them every year."