By HOWIE RUMBERG AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Yankees have acquired infielder Stephen Drew and infielder-outfielder Martin Prado in two deals meant to help boost a foundering offense for a playoff run.
Drew was acquired from the Boston Red Sox with $500,000 for Kelly Johnson on Thursday and Prado came from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league slugger Pete O’Brien and either cash or a player to be named.
“We’re obviously trying to improve our offensive output and give Joe (Girardi) flexible options,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of his manager. “We’re going to be asking some guys to move around.”
Cashman said Drew would start at second base, a position he’s never played at the major league level. Struggling second baseman Brian Roberts will be designated for assignment to make room for Drew.
The arrival of two more infielders comes about a week after New York dealt for third baseman Chase Headley. The Yankees also obtained pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano in the past few weeks.
Drew hit .253 for the World Series champion Red Sox last year but did not accept a $14.1 million qualifying offer. He re-signed with Boston on May 22 and has hit .176 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 39 games.
“We believe in Stephen’s abilities, and we certainly have a great deal of respect for his athleticism,” Cashman said after making the Yankees’ first trade with Boston since 1997. “We are asking him to accept a new challenge.”
Prado was hitting .270 with five homers and 42 RBIs in 106 games with the Diamondbacks this season. He should share time in right field with Ichiro Suzuki as Carlos Beltran tries to return to the outfield from a bone spur in his elbow. Prado, who has two years left on a four-year, $40 million deal, has just two innings of experience in right field and has not seen time in the outfield this season.
“I think one of his value points is his ability to play multiple positions,” Cashman said.
While neither player provides the Yankees with a big power bat to help the offense which is 11th in batting at .252, 10th in runs (429), and ninth in home runs (97), Cashman thinks the recent moves improve a club that trailed AL East-leading Baltimore by 5 1/2 games entering Thursday and was 3 games back in the wild card.
“I think we’re going to compete. I think we’re improved,” Cashman said. “We’re going to find out if it’s enough or not.”
NOTE: The Yankees claimed right-hander Esmil Rogers off waivers from the Blue Jays. Rogers had a 6.97 ERA in 16 games for Toronto. … INF Scott Sizemore was given his unconditional release from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
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