Reds get Rolen; deal Hairston to Yankees

Published 12:26 am Sunday, August 2, 2009

CINCINNATI — Looking for leadership and a right-handed hitter, the Cincinnati Reds got Scott Rolen from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday in a swap of third basemen.

Edwin Encarnacion was part of a package of three players the Reds gave up to acquire Rolen, who is batting .320 with eight homers and 43 RBI. They also sent right-handed reliever Josh Roenicke and a minor leaguer to the Blue Jays, who included cash to cover part of Rolen’s salary.

Rolen has one more year left on an eight-year, $90 million deal he signed with St. Louis. Former Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty made it a priority to get Rolen.

Email newsletter signup

“He will bring a lot to this ballclub that’s been lacking,” said Jocketty, in his second season as the Reds GM. “He brings leadership. He’s a veteran. I think he’ll add a lot to this club. And he’s still playing well. He’s a good RBI man and a Gold Glove at third base.”

The 34-year-old Rolen is a five-time All-Star. He was the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year with Philadelphia and helped St. Louis win the 2006 World Series.

Rolen clashed in St. Louis with manager Tony La Russa after the 2006 playoffs, when the third baseman was benched. Rolen later requested a trade. He waived a no-trade provision in his contract to go to Toronto in January 2008.

In another trade, the New York Yankees acquired infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. from the Reds on Friday, giving them a versatile player who has appeared at six positions this season.

The Reds received minor league catcher Chase Weems in the deal.

Hairston confirmed he was traded before the Reds’ scheduled game against the Colorado Rockies. He is batting .254 with eight homers and 27 RBI, having played shortstop, second base, third base and all three outfield positions this season.

With speedy outfielder Brett Gardner on the disabled list with a broken thumb, the Yankees moved to shore up their bench. Hairston gives the AL East leaders an experienced player who could spell several stars, including third baseman Alex Rodriguez, shortstop Derek Jeter and left fielder Johnny Damon.

“Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do it,” Hairston said. “I can play anywhere.”

It was the Reds’ first trade of the week and caught Hairston by surprise. Other teams had been interested in Cincinnati’s relievers.

“I’m a little shocked right now,” he said. “I feel a closeness with these guys. At the same time, I’m going to New York where we have a chance to win.”

The 20-year-old Weems was batting .260 with a homer and 14 RBI in 55 games with Class-A Charleston this season. He was picked in the sixth round of the 2007 draft.