After Deadline dust settles, Yanks deeper
Berkman, Wood, Kearns add veteran talent to stacked roster
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees pulled the trigger on three moves before the dealing was done on Saturday, adding sluggers Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns before completing a late transaction to bring in right-hander Kerry Wood.
Though the acquisition of Berkman from the Astros actually transpired first, it could not be announced until Saturday because the slugger had to agree to the trade due to his 10-and-5 rights, having owned at least 10 years in the Majors and at least five with the same club.
New York was able to confirm the acquisition of Kearns from the Cleveland Indians on Friday, swapping a player to be named or cash considerations to Cleveland. For Berkman, the Yankees parted with Triple-A right-hander Mark Melancon and Class A infielder Jimmy Paredes.
Finally, the Yankees got the acquisition of Wood in under the 4 p.m. ET wire, obtaining the reliever from the Indians for a player to be named or cash considerations. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he was happy to obtain players with track records and ability.
"You measure for your team needs," Cashman said. "As I approached the Deadline here, I was looking to see if I could secure players that were upgrades over what we currently had. We feel that all of these do that.
"We wanted to protect the farm system to the highest levels we could, and I think we've done that. We wanted to improve our club, and I think we've done that. We did a lot of hard work in terms of assessing who was available in the marketplace and what were the price tags attached to those players."
In corresponding moves on Saturday, the Yankees designated right-hander Chan Ho Park for assignment after the reliever had a 5.60 ERA in 27 appearances, with Wood being asked to assume his general role. New York also optioned Colin Curtis and Juan Miranda to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"In the last 72 hours, things got pretty hot, as you can see," Cashman said. "So we wound up doing three deals that we feel comfortable with. Hopefully, those players will have a positive impact and collectively come together to do positive things. We'll see."
The moves do fill areas of need for the Yankees, who came into the season envisioning Nick Johnson as their everyday designated hitter but have been without his services since May.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has used the DH role as a half-day off for his regulars, but the 34-year-old Berkman now offers a proven big league performer to serve as an everyday DH down the stretch.
"I never thought in a million years it would happen, being a lifelong Houston Astro," Berkman said. "I'm very happy to be here. I'm obviously a little sad to be leaving an organization that gave me my first chance to play in the big leagues, and I had a lot of great years there. But I'm very, very excited and happy to be here. It's a great situation. I mean, who doesn't want to play for the Yankees?"
Kearns offers a right-handed bat off the bench who adds flexibility to New York's outfield. The Yankees' lineup has been lefty-laden this season, and Kearns' presence takes some of the load off Curtis Granderson, who has struggled to hit left-handed pitching. Cashman also said that Kearns' glove represents an upgrade over Marcus Thames.
"Marcus Thames is exactly what we thought he was, a guy that mashes left-handed pitching," Cashman said. "But he doesn't give our manager as much flexibility from the defensive side. [Brett] Gardner has done a terrific job along with Granderson playing the outfield, but both of those players are left-handed hitters. I went into this process for the last month or so looking for a right-handed hitter that could provide defense."
Over the next month, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team and -- if there are multiple claims -- the player would be offered to the team with the worst record.
At that point, a team has 48 hours to either try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can only be pulled back from waivers once, but if he clears waivers either the first or a second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club.
Berkman has played his entire career with the Astros as a five-time National League All-Star, and he accepted some gentle nudging from former teammate and fellow Texan Andy Pettitte to approve the trade to the Yankees.
"The whole time he was there [in Houston], I had a sense that he wanted to be back here," Berkman said. "I would always give him a hard time, like, 'You're going to go back to the Yankees. I know you are.' We've had a lot of conversations about the differences between the organizations. Clearly, him being one of my best friends in the world is a big part of the reason why the Yankees were on my radar."
The "Big Puma" is hitting .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 85 games this year, but he is not without his issues -- Berkman is hitting .188 with one home run and four RBIs in 64 at-bats against left-handed pitching, and he owns just a .194 batting average away from Minute Maid Park this year.
"It's something that we'll work on here and try to get right," Girardi said.
Kearns, 30, hit .272 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 84 games for Cleveland this season. He has played all three outfield positions this year, spending most of his time in left field, and said that he is not concerned about how much playing time he'll receive.
"I think I'm just coming here and helping the guys in the outfield, giving them a break here and there," Kearns said. "Whatever they want -- I'm not picky. Anything to help out."
Cashman said that he also investigated acquiring an infielder before the clock struck 4 on Saturday, but the GM ultimately he feels that the Yankees have quickly become a more prepared club for the final two months of the regular season.
"We're certainly more protected as we move forward with some legitimate alternatives than we were prior to these last 48 hours," Cashman said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.