Yanks Upgrading Begins

NEW YORK – The Yankees, a mere handful of games behind the wild card slots, have begun their interleague wheeling and dealing. On July 22 they made a trade with the Padres for third baseman Chase Headley.

The Yankees sent infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-handed pitching prospect Rafael De Paula to San Diego in the deal. New York also received $1 million, according to a source.

“I’m not surprised,” Headley told MLB.com by phone on Tuesday. “You understand the circumstances … and you know there’s a good chance it can happen. But on the same token, and I’ve dealt with it in the past and nothing has happened, it’s weird. You never think this day is going to come.”

The switch-hitting Headley, 30, batted .229 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs in 77 games with San Diego. His power sapped by back issues, Headley’s performance has improved since receiving treatment earlier this month.

Since July 4, he is batting .339 (19-for-56) with four doubles, a triple, a home run and eight RBIs in 13 games. Headley projects to take over as the Yankees’ everyday third baseman, a position at which the team has been mixing and matching this season.

“It’s bittersweet,” Headley said. “On one hand, there’s not many people in the game who get to play in one organization for as long as I did. I loved every second in San Diego, all positive memories. But on the same token, I’m excited to move on to a team in a race right now.”

With Alex Rodriguez unavailable due to suspension, the 27-year-old Solarte made the team as a non-roster invitee this spring and held down the position early before slipping into an extended slump. He batted .254 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 75 games overall.

Solarte was sent down to the Minors earlier this month, and though he was recalled, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had recently been giving more playing time at third base to Kelly Johnson and Zelous Wheeler.

Johnson and Wheeler have versatility at multiple positions; Johnson figures to continue seeing playing time as the starting first baseman with Mark Teixeira out until at least Thursday with a strained lat muscle.

Headley can be a free agent after this season and is owed approximately $4 million for the remainder of the 2014 campaign. The Yanks will pay about $3 million of that figure, not including the $1 million sent to New York by San Diego.

In 908 career games over parts of eight Major League seasons, all with the Padres, Headley batted .266 with 87 home runs and 401 RBIs, while appearing in games at third base (680), left field (196) and first base (two).

De Paula, 23, was 6-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) with Class A Tampa this season. Originally signed by the Yankees as a Minor League free agent on Nov. 18, 2010, he was ranked No. 15 among Yanks prospects.