By RONALD BLUM/The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees are working on a trade to acquire Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros.
The deal was gaining momentum Friday and was likely to happen before Saturday’s trade deadline, a baseball executive familiar with the discussions said. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing.
“Nothing’s been completed,” Berkman said in Houston, before the Astros played Milwaukee.
It was not immediately clear who the Yankees would send to Houston in exchange for the five-time All-Star. Berkman has full no-trade rights, so he would have to approve a deal.
“I’m from Texas. Heck, I played at Rice. This city is like the womb. I feel very comfortable here. To think about the possibility of going anywhere else is kind of scary,” Berkman said.
“My ideal situation is to win a title here. If this organization feels those aims are better accomplished by trying to strip down this roster and reload with younger guys, I don’t want to stand in the way of that,” Berkman added. “If they approached me with something that made sense, I’d sure think about it.”
The 34-year-old Berkman began Friday hitting .245 with 13 homers and 49 RBIs. He has 60 walks and 70 strikeouts in 298 at-bats.
Berkman said Astros general manager Ed Wade discussed the possibility of a trade with him.
“He approached me two days ago with a list of probably eight teams that had expressed some interest. There were four yeas and four nays. There were some that were just no possibility,” Berkman said.
“In one way, it’s good if there are teams that still want me to play for them. That makes me feel pretty good, particular in a down season,” Berkman said. “I still have confidence that I could play at a high level. It’s a good feeling to hear these trade rumors. Obviously, these scouts from other teams feel that same way or else I wouldn’t be in the conversation.”
Berkman would fill the designated hitter slot originally intended for Nick Johnson, who returned to the Yankees during the offseason. The brittle Johnson has been on the disabled list since May 8 with a right wrist injury that required surgery.
Berkman, last an All-Star in 2008, is making $14.5 million this year. His contract includes a team option for 2011 at $15 million with a $2 million buyout.
“You don’t always get to pick how you leave an organization,” Berkman said. “If and when it comes time to move on, I’ll do it with as much grace as I can muster.”