By: Zachary Finkelstein
New York – Up against Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, the New York Yankees acquired three players in less than 24 hours time this past weekend.
The first move went down Friday, as the Bombers announced the acquisition of Cleveland Indians outfielder Austin Kearns.
The very next day, New York finalized deals for Houston Astros first baseman/DH Lance Berkman and Indians right-hander Kerry Wood, who was acquired at the deadline’s 11th hour.
For the Yankees, the moves are low-risk and high reward, with Wood and Kearns coming in exchange for “a player to be named later or cash considerations.”
As the marquee man added, Lance Berkman was obtained for right-handed pitcher Mark Melancon and Single-A infielder Jimmy Paredes.
Melancon, 25, was 6-1 with six saves and a 3.67 ERA in 40 relief appearances with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. Melancon also appeared in two games with the Yankees in 2010, allowing four earned runs in four innings pitched without recording a decision. In 15 career Major League relief appearances with the Yankees (2009-10), he went 0-1 with a 4.87 ERA.
Paredes, 21, was named by Baseball America as the 14th-best prospect in the New York-Penn League following the 2009 season.
Berkman, a 34-year-old switch-hitter, batted .296 with 375 doubles, 326 home runs and 1,090 RBI in 1,592 games with Houston.
Beloved by the Bayou City, Berkman departed Houston ranked second in franchise history in homers, third in runs scored (1,008), doubles and RBI, fourth in games played and fifth in at-bats (5,560) and hits (1,648).
Having recorded at least 20 homers each season since 2000, Berkman is only one of 11 players in history to have hit as many in each year of a decade.
A five-time All-Star, Berkman will see time at designated hitter while also spelling Mark Teixeira at first base.
Austin Kearns, a veteran bat off the bench, has experience playing all three outfield positions and will spot start for the Yankees down the stretch. A former Cincinnati Red, Washington National and Cleveland Indian, Kearns is looking to experience MLB’s postseason for the first time in his career.
As another late inning option, right-hander Kerry Wood went 81-68 with a 3.71 ERA in 357 games (178 starts) over parts of 12 seasons with the Chicago Cubs (1998, 2000-08) and Cleveland Indians (2009-10).
In donning pinstripes, Wood will report to his former Chicago Cubs battery-mate (2000-02), Joe Girardi.
In corresponding moves, the Yankees optioned Colin Curtis and Juan Miranda to Triple-A while designating reliever Chan Ho Park for assignment, ostensibly ending his career in pinstripes. A 2001 All-Star with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Park battled both injury and the home run bug all year while posting a 5.60 ERA in 29 appearances.
In Berkman, Kearns and Woods, the Yankees added three former first-round picks and currently have 10 such players on the 25-man roster.
With their team seemingly set, the Yankees appear ready for the season’s final two months.
It will surely be an exciting stretch run for a franchise with hopes of reaching the playoffs for the 15th time in 16 seasons.
Returning home Monday with a one-game division lead, the Bombers will host a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays before battling the Boston Red Sox for four.