Yankees fill need, acquire Pudge
New York trades reliever Farnsworth for 14-time All-Star
NEW YORK -- Dealing from their greatest area of strength to fill a pressing need, the Yankees acquired 14-time All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez from the Tigers on Wednesday in exchange for right-handed reliever Kyle Farnsworth.
The trade came on the same afternoon that catcher Jorge Posada underwent season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder, and will provide the Yankees with a proven veteran bat as well as a recognizable name behind the plate.
"It's time for me to take the trade and go somewhere else," Rodriguez said. "Right now, I'm going to be there for two months. I hope I can stay there. We'll see what happens, but at the same time, I'm just going to concentrate every single day there and try to make the Yankees make the playoffs again."
Rodriguez, a 13-time Gold Glove winner, was batting .295 with five home runs and 32 RBIs in 82 games with Detroit. A career .302 hitter, the 36-year-old catcher is in his 18th Major League season.
"It's going to be exciting to play with the Yankees. A lot of players would like to play there and play with guys like A-Rod, [Derek] Jeter and [Jason] Giambi, catching [Mike] Mussina and those guys," Rodriguez said. "It's going to be nice. I'm excited for that. I'm going to be a little nervous in the beginning. Even all the years I've been playing this game, sometimes you get excited, too."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Rodriguez is expected to join the Yankees on Thursday, as they open a four-game series with the Angels.
"He's still an everyday guy and he's a significant upgrade, in all due respect, to everything we've got," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "How it works out remains to be seen, but he's having a good year. We're excited to have the opportunity to believe that we've addressed an important area of need."
Farnsworth, 32, was having his best season of his three with the Yankees, pitching to a 3.65 ERA in 45 appearances. He struggled in a setup role his first two seasons after joining the Yankees as a free agent before the 2006 season.
Farnsworth pitched for Detroit in '05, registering six saves before being traded to Atlanta at the July 31 Trade Deadline. He was emotional as he discussed the deal, briefly breaking down in tears as he spoke to reporters.
"Nothing surprises me in this game, but it's one of those things you can't really put your finger on," Farnsworth said, his lower lip trembling.
Girardi said that saying goodbye to Farnsworth -- a former batterymate and a pitcher for who he had lobbied all season long -- was especially difficult.
"It was tough," Girardi said. "It's good to see a guy resurrect his career. He was willing to make some changes here and he's been dynamite with us. My relationship with him goes all the way back to 2000. I'm really happy for the success that he's had and I hope it continues for him."
|"It's time for me to take the trade and go somewhere else. Right now, I'm going to be there for two months. I hope I can stay there. We'll see what happens, but at the same time, I'm just going to concentrate every single day there and try to make the Yankees make the playoffs again."|
|-- Ivan Rodriguez|
Rodriguez, who can be a free agent after this season, played for the 2003 World Series champion Marlins and the American League-champion Tigers in '06.
"You've got an everyday catcher who is still doing extremely well," Cashman said. "He'll catch your staff for nine innings and he's been in championship runs before, versus someone [in Farnsworth] who is doing a tremendous job for us of the eighth inning. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul, there's no doubt about it. There's that risk there."
Rodriguez was the AL MVP in 1999, when he batted .332 with 35 homers and 113 RBIs for the Rangers. He played his first 12 seasons with the Rangers before leaving as a free agent and signing a one-year contract with the Marlins.
"He's been a great player for a long time," Girardi said. "I remember the battles as a player that we had when he was in Texas. He's been a World [Series] champion and also played in another World Series. He knows what it takes, so it's exciting to have him."
The Yankees' setup job had been increasingly filled by right-hander Jose Veras, and the addition of left-hander Damaso Marte gave them two pitchers to fill the role, making Farnsworth expendable. Edwar Ramirez, Dave Robertson and Brian Bruney could also play supporting parts.
"Over time, people emerging and doing the job," Cashman said. "I've got to give [Girardi] credit. He's handed the ball to a lot of guys and created a lot of opportunities. Those guys get a lot of credit for taking advantage."
Cashman said that the trade had developed quickly, saying as recently as Monday that he expected to continue this season with Jose Molina and Chad Moeller as the catching tandem. The move effectively returns Molina to the role of backup catcher, as he'd served behind Posada.
"This is Pudge Rodriguez we're talking about," Cashman said. "Hopefully we get what we need and we'll continue to mix and match, and run into some things internally or externally."
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski called Cashman on Wednesday morning offering Rodriguez for Farnsworth, and the deal was completed during New York's 13-3 victory over the Orioles. Cashman said that he instructed Girardi not to use Farnsworth in the game.
Both players are free agents after this season and no cash was exchanged in the trade, though Rodriguez did have to waive a no-trade clause to approve the deal. The Yankees plan to remove Moeller from their roster before Thursday's game to address their bullpen, possibly promoting a reliever from the Minor Leagues barring another transaction.
Rodriguez spoke to Cashman on the telephone and told the GM that he was "excited" and would return to Detroit from Cleveland to collect his belongings before reporting to Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Cashman responded by welcoming him to the pinstripes and telling him that the Yankees will need him.
"We want this race to be interesting," Cashman said. "We want to cross that finish line and play a 163rd game this year. Hopefully every move we make will put us closer."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.