It looks like long-time Astros star Lance Berkman is headed to the Yankees, according to ESPN.
The Texas native, who even played at Rice University in Houston, is finally leaving the sinking franchise. For Berkman, it essentially accelerates the inevitable. This is his last year on contract, and with the trade for Brett Wallace yesterday, it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before the switch-hitter would be on his way out of town.
For the Astros, the deal looks to be a good step in rebuilding.
It allows them to play recent acquisition Wallace, a 24-year-old first baseman who has had his offensive prowess praised. It will likely be his first shot at the majors, on his fourth team in the last two years.
The Astros also will receive high-level prospects or monetary relief, though knowing the Yankees, I would bet they get monetary relief. They will likely also get some sort of prospect, and with Houston in the middle of rebuilding, any sort of youth will help revitalize a stagnant team and farm system.
For the Yankees, I can’t claim to see what they would need Berkman for. He could play first base, or possibly, corner outfield. However, with all of those spots filled in New York, he will more likely be a DH. He could also be used to give some regulars a day off (and push Marcus Thames further down the bench).
If he does well this season, the Yankees could conceivably keep him next year, as he has a $15 million team option.
In any case, Berkman will certainly add to their offense. After a slow start (partially due to missing spring training and the season opener with an injury), he has rebounded with 13 home runs and a .245/.372/.436 line, with a 117 OPS+ (meaning his offense has been 17% above league average) and 1.9 Wins Above Replacement (essentially, how much a player is worth above an average player).
Should they decide to keep him next year, his numbers may see improvement with the return of his health.
As a Houston resident (although rather indifferent towards the Astros), it is disappointing to see Berkman go. He has always been respectable. However, this trade should likely improve both sides.
The trade will go through unless Berkman changes his mind within the next 24 hours.
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