Yankees Trade for Eric Hinske

Utilityman adds versatile bat to bench

Not to toot my own horn, but early Tuesday morning there was a suggestion on these pages that the Yankees' first trade target should be a bat capable of filling in on the outfield corners. They landed just such a player on Tuesday, but one-upped our modest suggestion by dealing for Eric Hinske of the Pirates.

Hinske can play the outfield corners, but he can also play third base. That means he'll be the guy getting a start during A-Rod's weekly rest days, and providing the lineup more punch than anything Ramiro Pena, who appears to be the odd man out on the current roster, or Cody Ransom brings to the table. He's also a worthy alternative in right field during Nick Swisher's cold snaps and can spell Mark Teixeira, Johnny Damon or spend a day at designated hitter if the need arises. That makes for a more flexible roster, one that can adapt to just about any situation that comes along before the season ends.

There's not much chance that Hinske will wilt under the pressure of the AL East race. The Yankees are his fourth divisional employer, only the Orioles haven't had the pleasure of paying Hinske, which means he's quite familiar with the opposition he'll be facing this summer. He was also with the Red Sox in 2007 and the Rays in 2008, which may mean he's something of a lucky charm when October rolls around.

Hinske is hitting .255 with one homer and 11 RBI this season in a part-time role for the Pirates. He hit 20 homers for the Rays in 2008, and a career-high 24 en route to winning the 2002 American League Rookie of the Year award with Toronto. The Yankees dealt two minor leaguers -- pitcher Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer -- to Pittsburgh to secure Hinske's services.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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