New York Lance Berkman is headed to the New York Yankees, who plan to complete a deal to acquire the former All-Star from the Houston Astros today, a day after the World Series champions obtained outfielder Austin Kearns from Cleveland.
New York will send a couple of prospects to the Astros, likely to be reliever Mark Melancon and infielder Jimmy Paredes, and Houston will pay part of what Berkman is owed, a baseball executive familiar with the discussions said Friday night. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
Berkman didn’t play Friday night against Milwaukee, and his Astros teammates said their goodbyes.
“Nothing’s been completed,” Berkman said before the game.
A five-time All-Star, Berkman had full no-trade rights, and his approval was necessary for a trade, accounting for the delay in its completion.
“I’m from Texas. Heck, I played at Rice. This city is like the womb. I feel very comfortable here. To think about the possibility of going anywhere else is kind of scary,” Berkman said.
After the game, Astros rookie Chris Johnson embraced Berkman.
“It’s really an odd feeling seeing his locker cleaned out,” Johnson said. “He came up and jumped on my back and gave me a hug and said, ‘Keep up the good work,’ and, ‘Good luck.’ It was weird.”
Kearns left Cleveland’s game at Toronto in the seventh inning and was traded to the Yankees for a player to be named or cash. The former first-round draft pick is hitting .272 with eight homers and 42 RBIs.
“A corner outfielder that gives us depth and experience,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “A right-handed bat that has power. We can use him a lot of different ways. It will give me a chance to rest our left-handed guys.”
Kearns will join the Yankees today. Berkman figures to be the more significant acquisition.
“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 younger guys, I don’t want to stand in the way of that,” Berkman said. “If they approached me with something that made sense, I’d sure think about it.”