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New York Yankees Acquire Casey McGehee

It wasn’t a blockbuster but the New York Yankees made a trade just before the 4 PM deadline today, acquiring Casey McGehee and $250,000 from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for reliever Chad Qualls.

With a need for a dependable third baseman with Alex Rodriguez out for six to eight weeks with a broken wrist, and with Mark Teixeira on the shelf for a few days after injuring his wrist diving for a ball on Monday, the Yankees brought McGehee in to help fill those voids.  McGehee, 29, is not an everyday player but he can hit left-handed pitching and hold his own defensively at third, first, and in the corner outfield spots.

The Yankees still plan on giving the bulk of playing time at third base to Eric Chavez but given Chavez’s injury history it was prudent for Yankees GM Brian Cashman to add an additional option at the hot corner.  If Chavez had gone down to injury the Yankees would be faced with either Ramiro Pena or Jayson Nix at third base, not exactly an ideal situation.

This season, McGehee was hitting .230 with 8 home runs and 35 RBI in 265 at-bats.  He has hit left-handed pitching to the tune of .250 with 4 home runs  and 11 RBI in 80 at bats while hitting .222 with 4 homers and 24 RBI in 185 at bats against righties.  The addition of McGehee allows manager Joe Girardi to rest Eric Chavez against lefties.

McGehee does have some power, having hit 23 homers with 104 RBI for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 and he did hit 13 last season and 16 in 2009.  He has also shown an ability to hit to the opposite field, which at Yankee Stadium, should bode well for his power numbers.  While it is extremely doubtful he will return to the level that saw him drive in over 100 runs, it wouldn’t be surprising if he could return to his 2009 level, although I wouldn’t expect a .301 batting average again.

Another bonus is the fact that McGehee is under team control through 2014 as an arbitration eligible player.  Also an added bonus, the Yankees were able to dump Chad Qualls, who was slated to be designated for assignment when Joba Chamberlain was ready to come off the disabled list.  Qualls had been awful as a Yankee, posting a 6.14 ERA in 8 games with the Yankees after getting picked up on July 1st from the Philadelphia Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.  Since Cashman was able to deal Qualls, Joba was rerouted from his trip to Trenton where he was to continue a rehab stint with AA affiliate Trenton Thunder.  To make room for McGehee, the Yankees will send Ramiro Pena back down to AAA on Wednesday.

This was a typical Brian Cashman move, under the radar and prudent.  The cost was perfect for the Yankees GM, giving up a reliever the team had no use for in exchange for someone that fills an immediate need.  Color me optimistic but I think McGehee will see some success in Pinstripes, especially at home.  This is the third time the Yankees and Pirates have hooked up on a deal since 2008.  In 2008, the Yankees sent Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, and Daniel McCutchen to Pittsburgh for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.  Then, prior to this season, the Yankees sent A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for two prospects.