In a trade announced Wednesday by the Texas Rangers, the Yankees acquired Wilson, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, in exchange for future considerations from the Rangers.
This, however, doesn’t mean the four-time Pro Bowler is hanging up his shoulder pads or even planning a Deion Sanders- or Bo Jackson-like career of pursuing both sports. The NFL remains Wilson’s top priority, but he wants to maintain his love for and ties to baseball, ESPN reported. Wilson, 29, is expected to appear in some Yankees Grapefruit League games in Tampa, Florida, in February or March.
Russell, a second baseman, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2010. He played two seasons of minor league ball — one for the short-season Class A Tri-City Dust Devils and one for the Class A Asheville Tourists.
Over the 93 games he played in those two seasons, Wilson hit .229 with five home runs, 26 RBIs, 58 runs scored and 19 stolen bases.
The Rangers selected him in the Rule 5 draft in 2013, just after his second season in the NFL. He worked out with the team over two springs.
Wilson has long wanted to play for the Yankees, and both teams worked for weeks to accommodate his wishes, ESPN reported.
“While football is my passion and my livelihood, baseball remains a huge part of where I came from and who I am today,” Wilson said in a statement. “I’ve learned so much on the baseball field that translates to my game physically and mentally playing quarterback in the NFL. I thank the Rangers and their great fans for making me feel at home and a part of the family! While I embrace the chance to be a New York Yankee, I will forever be grateful to have been a part of a world class organization like the Texas Rangers.”
Added Yankees general manager Brian Cashman: “We’ve admired Russell’s career from afar for quite some time. This is a unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his profession.”
The Yankees certainly did not need to add Russell to create a buzz at George M. Steinbrenner Field, their spring training home. The Bombers are considered serious World Series contenders this season and have stars Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and the newly acquired Giancarlo Stanton to draw fans to the ballpark.