Yankees acquire C Ivan Rodriguez from Tigers

Jul 30, 2008 - 11:16 PM BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- The New York Yankees hope that Ivan Rodriguez can ease the loss of Jorge Posada.

The Yankees made another major splash in the trade market Wednesday afternoon, acquiring Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star catcher, from the Detroit Tigers for embattled reliever Kyle Farnsworth.

Rodriguez will replace the injured Posada, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery prior to Wednesday's 13-3 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles.

The 36-year-old Posada signed a four-year contract for $52 million this past offseason to stay with the Yankees. But the five-time All-Star was hampered by a right shoulder injury throughout the season and batted just .268 with three homers in 51 games.

Less than 24 hours before Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline, the Yankees obtained a short-term stopgap behind the plate in the 36-year-old Rodriguez, who is scheduled to make $13 million this year and will become a free agent after the season.

"I was surprised," Rodriguez said of Wednesday's deal. "It was very shocking news."

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland saw things differently.

"This is scripted perfectly," Leyland said. "He's a Hall of Famer going to Yankee Stadium. This is the face of baseball, not just the face of baseball in Detroit. It's almost like a movie."

As for the Yankees, they can't wait to get Rodriguez into pinstripes.

"(Rodriguez) has been a great player for a long time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been a world champion and he also has played in another World Series, so he knows what it takes."

"This started today," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman added. "It started with a conversation earlier with Detroit. It went out throughout the day, and I talked to (Girardi) before the game and told him about the discussions."

Rodriguez had his contract option exercised this past winter by the Tigers, who signed the 13-time Gold Glove winner to a four-year, $40 million deal prior to the 2004 season.

Wednesday's deal marks the second major trade pulled off in the past five days by the Yankees, who acquired outfielder Xavier Nady and reliever Damaso Marte last Friday from Pittsburgh.

The Yankees (59-48), who also signed first baseman Richie Sexson earlier this month, are four games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays (63-44) in the American League East Division.

Rodriguez is batting .295 with five homers and 32 RBI this season for Detroit. The former American League MVP provides New York with a definite offensive upgrade over Jose Molina, a defensive specialist who is batting just .229 this year.

"We're talking about a Hall of Fame catcher coming in here," Girardi said. "He's been playing well and he's hitting .290."

"(Rodriguez) is a significant upgrade with all due respect to who we got," Cashman said. "How it works out all remains to be seen, but he's having a good year and we're excited to have the opportunity to believe that we addressed an important area of need."

Farnsworth, 32, is in the final season of a three-year, $17 million deal with the Yankees, who signed the hard-throwing righthander to serve as a bridge to All-Star closer Mariano Rivera.

But Farnsworth struggled for the most part in his two-plus seasons with New York. He showed signs of improvement this season, going 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA in 45 games.

"I went out there and gave it everything I had when I pitched," Farnsworth said following Wednesday's game. "Another team wants me, so that's how I look at it."

"It's hard because (Farnsworth) was a big part of our bullpen and he loved being here," Girardi said. "I had a relationship with Kyle, so it's hard."

Despite his fond feelings toward Farnsworth, Girardi has to be pleased with the acquisition of Rodriguez, who won the AL MVP in 1999 and has appeared in two World Series since 2003.

An 18-year veteran, Rodriguez helped lead Florida to the World Series championship in 2003 and was an integral member of the 2006 Tigers, who won the AL pennant before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic.

Rodriguez is a career .302 hitter with 293 homers and 1,214 RBI in 2,234 games with Detroit, Florida and Texas.

Farnsworth constantly drew ire from Yankees fans and the local media during his first two seasons with New York, when he posted a 4.57 ERA and frequently battled control problems.

But Farnsworth claimed that he enjoyed his time in the Bronx.

"I had a good time here," he said. "It's tough. Nothing surprises me in this game. It's one of those things you just put your finger on, so you just go with it."

A 10-year veteran, Farnsworth could fill a need with the Tigers, who also are a postseason contender despite enduring problems at the back of their bullpen throughout the season.

The 6-4 Farnsworth figures to compete with recently named closer Fernando Rodney and veteran Todd Jones for late-inning work with the Tigers, who saw hard-throwing reliever Joel Zumaya suffer an arm injury during Sunday's game against the White Sox.

Detroit (54-52) entered Wednesday just 5 1/2 games behind the first-place White Sox (59-46) in the AL Central.

It will mark the second stint with the Tigers for Farnsworth, who appeared in 46 games with Detroit during the 2005 season before being traded to Atlanta at the trade deadline that year.

Farnsworth owns a 29-47 record with a 4.42 ERA in 596 career games with the Yankees, Tigers, Braves and Chicago Cubs.

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