|Wednesday, March 19
Updated: March 20, 9:30 AM ET
Yankees obtain Trammell for White in outfielder swap
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Outfielder Rondell White has a place to play following his trade from the New York Yankees to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Bubba Trammell and minor league left-hander Mark Phillips on Wednesday.
More importantly, the Padres cleared approximately $5 million from the books for 2004, which will help them pursue free agents prior to moving into their new downtown ballpark next season.
The trade came less than two weeks after Padres left fielder Phil Nevin had surgery on his dislocated left shoulder, which likely will cause him to miss the season.
White will play left field and bat fifth, providing protection for Ryan Klesko. Trammell had been scheduled to play right field, but rookie Xavier Nady is now the frontrunner to start there instead of in left.
White, 31, was a disappointment in his first season with the Yankees, getting hurt during spring training and failing to regain his swing until late in the season, when he was injured again. He batted .240 with 14 homers and 62 RBI.
"It's good and bad. I'm going to miss the guys," White said in Tampa, Fla. "I had a chance to play with a group of Hall of Famers. I didn't want to leave New York. I wanted to come back and prove what I can do.
"It's a business. I'm getting a chance to play every day. I think I'm an everyday player."
White makes $5 million this year and is eligible for free agency after the season.
"I'm happy for Rondell," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Obviously, he wouldn't have a chance to play the outfield here. It's something he's used to doing. It's an opportunity for him. I know he's sad about leaving."
Trammell, a former New York Met, makes $2.5 million in 2003 and $4.75 million next year. He has a $4.75 million team option for 2005, with a $250,000 buyout. If the Yankees decline Trammell's option, the Padres will reimburse them for the buyout.
While taking on $2.5 million in salary this year, the Padres at least dumped Trammell's 2004 salary. If they can also trade pitcher Kevin Jarvis and catcher Wiki Gonzalez, they'd clear more than $10 million for 2004.
San Diego has had four straight losing seasons, including last year's 66-96 finish.
"This gives us flexibility in '04 to allow us to be a player in the free agent market," general manager Kevin Towers said. "With Nevin back next year and having Nady, it would be tough for Bubba to get playing time."
The Padres are interested in star Japanese shortstop Kazuo Matsui and Oakland's Miguel Tejada, the reigning AL MVP, who's been told by the Athletics that they can't afford to offer him a multi-year contract after this season. Both are eligible for free agency after the season.
The Padres could also save money if they don't exercise closer Trevor Hoffman's $10 million option -- he has a $2 million buyout -- and get him to come back for a lower base salary in an incentive-laden contract. Hoffman is out until after the All-Star break after undergoing a second shoulder surgery. He's fifth on the all-time list with 352 saves, but he turns 36 in October.
"Losing Hoffy and Nevin, we need to be realistic about our chances," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That will play a major part in our decision whether we go with Nady every day in the outfield.
"We couldn't trade Bubba and not get a proven hitter, a quality hitter like Rondell back," Bochy said. "That would be too much strain on the lineup with Nevin out."
Trammell, 31, had a breakout year in 2001, hitting .261 with 25 homers and 92 RBI. He struggled last year though, while platooning much of the season with Ray Lankford in left, batting .243 with 17 homers and 56 RBI.
"I'm excited. I'm going to a team that's a perennial winner," Trammell said.
The Yankees save $2.85 million this year -- the $2.5 million difference in salaries and $350,000 in luxury tax.
"We're pleased. We think it makes sense for us in a lot of ways," GM Brian Cashman said. "Bubba Trammell is a power bat. He provides with you some flexibility with that bat off the bench."
Phillips will report to Double-A Trenton. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft. He was 10-8 with a 4.19 ERA at Class-A Lake Elsinore of the California League. Phillips struck out 156 in 148 1/3 innings, leading the league with 94 walks.