I was surprised this morning to hear this news:
With an outfielder their most pressing need as they try to claw out a playoff berth, the Yankees last night acquired ex-Met Matt Lawton from the Cubs for an A-ball minor league pitching prospect.
Lawton, who hit .268 with 11 homers and 49 RBI in 120 games with Chicago and Pittsburgh this season, likely will be plugged into left field with Hideki Matsui moving to center on regular occasions as the Yankees address what has been a problem for them all season long. According to sources, the deal came down in the middle of last night’s 5-1 Yankee win over the Royals, after it had been learned earlier in the day that Lawton had cleared waivers.
The Yanks are believed to be shipping Staten Island righty Justin Berg to the Cubs, who will save the roughly $1 million remaining on Lawton’s contract.
One month ago, I said that Lawton is just about an average batter. That is what he has been the last few seasons. This year, he was doing OK for the Pirates – but, not so great once he went to the Cubs.
Justin Berg was a 43rd-round selection from the 2003 draft. So, we’re not talking about giving up a blue-chipper in this deal.
Maybe the Yankees can get lucky here? In 2000, New York picked up a so-so performing OF from the Cubs for the pennant run and he exceeded expectations when he played for the Yankees that year. His name was Glenallen Hill – and he went on to pound out 16 HRs in just 40 games.
And, this is just a guess, but, I think the Yankees will end up batting Lawton in the two-hole. So, he should see lots of good pitches to hit in that spot.
Given what the Yankees surrendered in this trade, and the possible return, it’s not a bad deal.