Berkman trade to Yankees completed
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It's official. Lance Berkman is a Yankee.
The New York Yankees announced the completion of the deal just after 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday, 24 hours after Berkman agreed to waive the no-trade clause in his contract, as per Major League Baseball rules.
"It gives us a very accomplished switch-hitter that knows how to hit in the middle of the order," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been an RBI guy, he's been a run-producer."
The Yankees also received cash considerations from the Astros, who will assume a portion of Berkman's remaining salary for this season and next season. Berkman is in the last year of a six-year, $85 million contract that paid him $14.5 million this season.
He also has a $15 million club option for 2011 with a $2 million buyout. Of the slightly more than $7.15 million remaining on the contract, the Yankees will pay $3,150,273, while Houston will pay $4 million.
"Ever since I've been active in professional baseball, the Yankees have either won the World Series or were extremely upset they didn't win the World Series," Berkman said. "That's a different deal. There's not another organization in the game that has that kind of expectation."
Berkman was the DH in Saturday night's game against Tampa Bay, batting second in Girardi's lineup. He flied out in his first at-bat, then finished the night 0-for-4 as the Yankees beat the Rays 5-4.
"I was thinking to myself on the way over here, I was like 'Man, I'm going to play for the New York Yankees against the Tampa Bay Rays, basically for first place in the division,'" Berkman said before the game. "Or I'd be going up to play the Milwaukee Brewers, you know what I'm saying, there's like 10 people in the stands. Not to say anything bad, either about the Astros or the Brewers, it's just the situation we were in this year."
Berkman, 34, is expected to assume every-day duties as the Yankees' designated hitter, a position the Yanks acquired Nick Johnson to fill in the offseason.
But Johnson suffered a wrist injury that required surgery and is generally assumed to be done for the year. Berkman was batting .245 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs for the Astros. His best season was in 2006, when he hit .315 with 45 home runs and 136 RBIs.
The Chicago White Sox had worked out a deal for Berkman, who rejected the trade..
"He sent me a message and said it wasn't personal but he had already had conversations with Andy Pettitte and they're best friends and that's kind of what was in his mind, his family's mind, but he had absolutely had no qualms about our situation here," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said.
Berkman and Pettitte were teammate on the Astros from 2004 to 2006.
"One of the reasons I decided, I was like here you are at this point of your career, something's got to change," Berkman said. "You've got to do something, either retirement or get into a situation where you're scared again. If you come here and do great, the people will love you. If you flop, then they'll be, this guy is a bum and get him out of here. Either way it's simulating."
Berkman never thought in a "million years" that he would play for the Yankees. His favorite player growing up was Don Mattingly, and became a switch-hitter because his father's favorite was Mickey Mantle.
"I didn't think that a set of circumstances would come along that would make this happen," Berkman said.
Asked about the pending addition of Berkman, along with outfielder Austin Kearns, who acquired late Friday night from the Cleveland Indians, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said: "That's great. We're a team that's all about winning and anyone who can come in here and help us score more runs is great. I know both of them real well and they're two quality guys who are going to be great for this clubhouse."
Berkman has spent the vast majority of his career batting either third or fourth in the batting order, spots currently occupied by Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
Where to stick Berkman in the lineup will be a pleasant problem for manager Girardi, Teixeira said.
"We have so many dynamic players on our team that no one guy has to carry this club. That's the great thing about the Yankees. You can see him hitting at the top of the order, you can see him hitting in the middle, he can drive in runs from anywhere," he said.
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