The trade is not expected to become official until Saturday because of a technicality -- Berkman has to waive no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 man, a player who has been in the majors for 10 years, the last five with the same team. But he has agreed to do so, according to a major-league official, and, barring a last-minute change of mind, Berkman will officially become a Yankee on Saturday.
In return, Houston is expected to receive two prospect, neither of them high-level. Several reports have pegged them as reliever Mark Melancon and infielder Jimmy Paredes. The Astros also reportedly have agreed to pay roughly $4 million of the $7 million owed Berkman.
The move fills a DH need for the Yankees, who earlier this season lost Nick Johnson to a right wrist injury, likely for the summer. It also gives them a bit more depth.
But make no mistake, this is nowhere close to an in-his-prime Berkman. At 34 now and a life-long Astro, Berkman was hitting .245 with 13 homers and 49 RBI. In 358 plate appearances this season, Berkman has struck out 70 times and walked 60.
He's also hitting only .188 against left-handers this season with one homer in 64 at-bats. But he gives the Yankees a veteran bat, be it from the DH slot or off the bench, which they hope will aid them down the stretch.
Berkman is due roughly $5 million this season with a club option for $15 million -- or a $2 million buyout -- for 2011. It is not yet clear what the Astros will receive in return, but they are not expected to receive high-level prospects for Berkman. Also unclear is how much of the $7 million or so Berkman is owed will be picked up by Houston.
As for why the deal must wait until Saturday even though Berkman already has agreed to waive his no-trade powers, as Joel Sherman explains in the New York Post, Article 19 of the Basic Agreement provides that trades involving players with 10-and-5 rights cannot be announced until 24 hours after the player gives his consent.
Berkman, who was held out of Friday night's lineup against Milwaukee, would not confirm that he agreed to the deal earlier Friday.
"I'm from Texas," Berkman told reporters in Houston on Friday night. "Heck, I played at Rice. This city is like the womb. I feel very comfortable here. To think about the possibility of going anywhere else is kind of scary.
"My ideal situation is to win a title here. If this organization feels those aims are better accomplished by trying to strip down this roster and reload with younger guys, I don't want to stand in the way of that."
One other Houston icon who was traded in recent days, pitcher Roy Oswalt, thinks the move to New York will rejuvenate his old teammate.
"I think it would be good for him," Oswalt told reporters in Washington on Friday after making his first start for Philadelphia since the Phillies acquired him from Houston on Thursday. "Sometimes you get a change of scenery [and] it turns you all the way around. Sometimes you get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again."
Berkman acknowledged that Astros general manager Ed Wade approached him two days ago with a list of "probably eight teams" that had expressed interest in the 12-year veteran.
"There were four yeas and four nays," Berkman said.
In the end, as we've seen in the past, the Bronx came up with the biggest yea.
"You don't always get to pick how you leave an organization," Berkman said. "If and when it comes time to move on, I'll do it with as much grace as I can muster."