Big Puma has been traded to the Big Apple.
Berkman is 34 and best-suited to DH, though he obviously played first base in the NL. He's batting .245/.372/.436 — all well below his career averages — with 13 homers and 16 doubles in 298 at-bats. Berkman is a switch hitter, but against lefties is batting just .188 with a .559 OPS (ouch!) and one homer in 64 at-bats.
Aside from that, it should be a good deal for the Yankees. Over the past 28 days, Berkman is batting .262/.435/.585 with six homers. He should find the right-field porch at Yankee Stadium as inviting as Texas BBQ. Well, almost.
Berkman (also known as "Fat Elvis") is one of the friendliest players in the league and will fit in respectfully to the New York clubhouse. Being watched under the New York spotlight, harsh for some, won't be a problem with Berkman.
The detail making the deal unofficial at this hour is a clause in the collective bargaining agreement saying 24 hours must pass after a player has waived a no-trade clause, which Berkman has done, before it becomes final.Berkman's contract contains a $15-million mutual option for next season — the buyout is $2 million — and he had said it would be a condition of any trade that his new team buy him out for 2011. Berkman wants to have the option of returning to Houston. A native of the Texas republic, he's a loyal son of a gun.
Berkman makes $14.5 million this season, the remaining part of which — about $5.5 million — the Yankees would pick up. The Astros, in the past few days, have traded the two remaining stalwarts from their '05 World Series runner-up team — Roy Oswalt(notes) being the other, to the Phillies.
The prospects coming back to Houston are not, reportedly, all that good. The deal seems to be an accommodation by Astros owner Drayton McLane to help Berkman win a championship.
The Yankees were thought to be in the mix for Washington Nationals' slugger Adam Dunn(notes), who is three years younger and a free agent at the end of the season. Now for Dunn, it might be down to the White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays or maybe nobody.