Yankees land Abreu in trade
Bombers also acquire Lidle from Phillies for four prospects
NEW YORK -- The Yankees solved two of their problems with one trade on Sunday, acquiring right fielder Bobby Abreu and right-hander Cory Lidle from the Phillies for four Minor League prospects.
New York sent shortstop C.J. Henry, left-hander Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and right-hander Carlos Monasterios to Philadelphia for Abreu, a two-time National League All-Star and 2005 Gold Glove winner.
"He gives us an experienced, left-handed bat; an everyday, grinder-type player," Joe Torre said. "I've been very impressed with the way Bobby Abreu plays his game for a long time. He's a good fit for us right now at a position we were trying to find a day-to-day solution."
"It's a good team; they have such good players over there," Abreu said of the Yankees. "Those guys have been to the World Series a long time. To play with those guys -- Jeter, A-Rod and Giambi and those guys -- it's going to make me feel good."
Abreu is hitting .277 this season, but his on-base percentage is a robust .427, third in the NL. After averaging 25 homers per season from 2000-05, Abreu has just eight home runs this year, though he does have 65 RBIs.
"I just want him to do what he's been doing," said general manager Brian Cashman. "We're not looking for a home run hitter; we're looking for somebody who has a number of different weapons who can help you. He's still an offensive force."
Abreu will become the Yankees' everyday right fielder, moving Bernie Williams and Aaron Guiel to the bench. Melky Cabrera will likely remain the regular left fielder until Hideki Matsui returns from the disabled list next month, at which time the youngster should become a bench player.
"We feel we've had a chance to upgrade significantly in right field," Cashman said. "Bobby comes with some weapons that can put pressure on, whether it's taking a walk, stealing a base, hitting a double, triple or home run."
The Yankees did not have to pick up Abreu's $15 million option for 2008 in order to get him to waive his no-trade clause, as the Phillies gave him $1.5 million to do so. New York will pay Abreu $4.4 million for the remainder of 2006 and $15 million in 2007. The Yankees retain the option for 2008, which they can buy out for $2 million.
"There's been a lot of talk the last few days on the baseball side of it before the decision was made to go for it from the financial side of it," Torre said. "We think Bobby Abreu is a good player; he's not just a quick fix."
Abreu's arrival probably signals that 2006 will be the final season of Gary Sheffield's tenure in New York, as the Yankees hold a $13 million option on him for next season. New York now has $41 million committed to Abreu, Matsui and Johnny Damon for 2007.
Cashman and Phillies GM Pat Gillick had been working on several trade scenarios over the past few days, including one which would have sent Scott Proctor to Philadelphia for Abreu.
"Two days ago, it was a whole different equation that we were working on," Cashman said. "You just don't know how things are going to shake out."
Offers went back and forth, and after the two men agreed on the prospects that would go to the Phillies, Cashman and Yankees president Randy Levine called owner George Steinbrenner Sunday morning to make their recommendation. Steinbrenner gave them his blessing to make the deal, which was officially announced after the Yankees' 4-2 win over the Devil Rays.
"He knows what kind of player Bobby is; everybody knows what he's done for a long time in Philadelphia," Cashman said. "These aren't easy decisions; I know it wasn't for me. It's a lot of money [and] it's a big commitment; we're trying to win now and give this team reinforcements."
Lidle went 8-7 with a 4.74 ERA in 21 starts for Philadelphia, posting 13 quality starts. In parts of nine seasons with six different teams, he has a career record of 78-69 with a 4.55 ERA.
Lidle will likely join the back end of the rotation in place of Sidney Ponson, who has started twice for New York since being signed on July 14. Lidle last pitched on Thursday for the Phillies, so he could start on Thursday in Ponson's place against Toronto.
"I wouldn't have done this if I didn't get a pitcher back," Cashman said. "I had to have Cory Lidle or this doesn't get done. We have a good team, but this has some exposure in areas."
"He's one of those pitchers that, when he's on, can give you a lot of trouble," Torre said. "He's not overpowering, but he's got enough weapons to make teams work very hard."
Cashman managed to acquire both a big bat for the middle of the lineup and a starting pitcher for the back end of the rotation without dealing away any of the club's blue-chip prospects, most notably Philip Hughes and Jose Tabata.
"The Phillies got prospects in this deal, but there were certain guys that, at this point in time, I was unwilling to give up," Cashman said. "[Players such as] Phil Hughes and Tabata, there are a lot of guys I was looking to protect."
Henry, the Yankees' first-round draft pick in 2005, was hitting .237 with two homers, 33 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 76 games this season with Class A Charleston.
Sanchez hit .264 with no homers and 10 RBIs in 23 games for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, while Monasterios went 1-2 with a 2.97 ERA in seven games (three starts) for the GCL Yankees.
"The Yankees only deal for the present," Torre said. "We made this move for right now. We gave up some young players that are going to be a part of the future somewhere else."
Both Abreu and Lidle are expected to join the Yankees on Tuesday. The club did not announce any corresponding roster moves, though Ponson and Guiel appear to be the likely candidates to be designated for assignment, though Bubba Crosby, Shawn Chacon and T.J. Beam are possibilities as well.
"We have a sprint that we're ready to take on," Cashman said. "It's tough competition in this league, so hopefully we're a little better prepared to withstand the next two months with the moves we just did."
The deadline isn't until late Monday afternoon, but Cashman and the Yankees appear to have made the one move they needed to make with 24 hours to spare. That said, the GM didn't rule out the possibility of another deal before the deadline.
"There's time on the clock," Cashman said. "I'm not anticipating things, but we have until 4:00 tomorrow. You never know."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.