Boone deal hasn't changed Henson's mind

Updated: February 10, 2004, 7:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- When the New York Yankees traded for third baseman Aaron Boone on Thursday, Drew Henson's baseball and football futures were immediately up for debate.

Henson, a former college quarterback at Michigan and a sixth-round draft pick of the Houston Texans in April, is struggling for the Yankees' Triple-A team in Columbus, hitting just .227 with 12 homers. The Yankees have been waiting for Henson to emerge, but may have run out of patience with the Boone deal.

"Drew Henson hasn't developed to the point where he is in consideration for the major-league side," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Post. "By this move, we recognize there is a position of need for the organization and we can improve upon it now. The move for Aaron Boone speaks volumes as to where Drew Henson is in terms of his development at this time."

But that doesn't mean Henson is headed for the NFL. He signed a six-year, $17 million contract with the Yankees in March 2001, and says he's not ready to give up on baseball.

"There are only so many things I can do," Henson said. "It doesn't change a lot for me regardless of whom they get to play third base."

Henson's agent, Casey Close, told The New York Times he expects Henson to be traded, but to remain in baseball.

"He's a guy they're still paying $12 million to and wants to continue playing baseball," Close said. "You'd think they would want to move him, rather than keep sending him to Columbus every year."

His baseball deal, as ESPN.com has reported, includes base salaries of $2 million (in 2003), $2.2 million (2004), $3.8 million (2005) and $6 million (2006).

The Yankees "still owe Drew a lot of money," one of Henson's agents, Ken Kremer, of IMG Football, told ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli in early July. "It would be tough, for a lot of reasons like the rookie pool, for the Texans to compete with that. But the bottom line is that Drew really wants to play baseball."

The Texans, who hold Henson's NFL rights until next April, don't need a marquee passer but could trade him to a team that does.

Casserly disclosed Friday that shortly before the Reds-Yankees trade, he saw the first signs of interest in Henson.

"We had a team call about him this week," Casserly said. "We haven't tried to solicit anything at all."

Casserly selected Henson strictly as a commodity and not to compete with David Carr, last year's No. 1 overall pick and entrenched as the Texans starter.

He bluntly said last spring baseball clearly wasn't working out for Henson and that the Texans could offer him the opportunity to deal with one of the 31 other teams and help work out a trade, with Houston looking to secure at least a high draft choice in return.

"It doesn't look like third base is in his future for the Yankees," Casserly said. "We'll just have to see what happens."

An NFL suitor also would have to buy out part or all of Henson's contract.