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Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Updated: December 23, 11:37 AM ET
Braves get Cabrera, Dunn, cash

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NEW YORK -- When Javier Vazquez last threw a pitch for the New York Yankees, it was a nadir in the team's storied history. He gave up two homers to Johnny Damon, including a key grand slam, as the Yankees lost Game 7 of the 2004 AL Championship Series to Boston.

Now Vazquez is back, acquired Tuesday from the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Melky Cabrera as New York tweaks its championship roster in an effort to win back-to-back titles.

The move pushes the Yankees' payroll for next season to more than $200 million.

The Braves also are sending right-hander Boone Logan to the Yankees, and the Yankees are sending the Braves left-hander Mike Dunn, right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and $500,000 in the transaction.

"Hopefully, I can erase those memories," Vazquez said of the 2004 series.

General manager Brian Cashman said he didn't intend to add another "high-end player" with "dollars attached on a large scale." That would appear to exclude Damon, who turned down the Yankees' $14 million, two-year offer last week and countered at $20 million as the team was reaching an agreement with Nick Johnson to become its designated hitter.

Coming off a $52 million, four-year contract, Damon hasn't lowered his price enough for suddenly budget-conscious New York.

"The Yankees have always been about impact players and Johnny certainly has proven his value to the team in the locker room, on the field, in key situations in the postseason," Damon's agent, Scott Boras, said Tuesday. "It's rare that those types of players are available to you at short-term reasonable costs to assist a team in repeating a world championship."

Vazquez, with a 15-10 record, ranked second in the National League last season with 238 strikeouts and sixth in ERA at 2.87 as the No. 2 starter in the rotation. This is his second time around with the Yankees, having pitched in New York in 2004, when he went 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA and made his only All-Star team.

Vazquez, 33, joins a pitching rotation that includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. The Yankees' top four starters will combine for $64 million in payroll -- more than four teams paid their entire rosters last season.

With the trade and including the still-unfinalized signing of Johnson, the Yankees' payroll for next season stands at $200.9 million for 16 signed players. That includes two not expected to make the opening day roster: pitcher Andrew Brackman and infielder Juan Miranda.

Vazquez
Vazquez
Logan
Logan

Cabrera had been the Yankees' starting center fielder for most of the past three seasons. After losing the job to Brett Gardner during spring training this year, he quickly regained it and hit .274 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs, helping the Yankees win the World Series for the first time since 2000. He is eligible for free agency after the 2012 season.

This move opens the door for outfield moves for both teams. The Yankees now are expected to explore both the free-agent and trade markets for a left fielder. But they've continued to portray themselves as uninterested in anyone in the price range of Matt Holliday, Jason Bay or Damon.

One name that has been on their radar screen is Mark DeRosa, whose $6 million asking price is in the dollar area they appear willing to allocate. While DeRosa's agent, Lonnie Cooper, has spoken with Cashman, Cooper said the GM hasn't discussed any "next steps."

Atlanta had six starting pitchers after giving Tim Hudson a $28 million, three-year contract in November. The trade left the Braves with a rotation that includes Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami.

"We knew that we would have an extra pitcher that would allow us to improve our club in another area and so we have worked hard the last two months to try to figure out the best package that we could acquire," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

The Vazquez deal frees up about $9 million for the Braves to spend on upgrading their offense -- Vazquez's $11.5 million salary, minus the $3 million or so Cabrera figures to earn via arbitration, and getting the $500,000 in cash from the Yankees.

Cabrera
Cabrera
Dunn
Dunn

They'll now look to use that surplus on a power bat in the outfield, first base or possibly both.

"We've been focused on that all offseason," Wren said.

Damon is one possibility, particularly because his home in Orlando is within minutes of the Braves' spring training complex. Another option is free agent Xavier Nady, who could play first or the outfield and would come at a relatively low base price because he is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.

Or the Braves could look to deal an outfielder -- either Cabrera or possibly Jordan Schafer -- for a bat. They've been linked in trade rumors to Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who could potentially slide to first base.

Vazquez's first stint in New York ended miserably, when he relieved Kevin Brown trailing 2-0 in Game 7 of the ALCS and allowed a first-pitch grand slam to Damon, then gave up a two-run homer to Damon in the fourth.

Vazquez was dealt to Arizona after the season in the trade that brought Randy Johnson to New York. Following a year with the Diamondbacks, he spent three seasons with the Chicago White Sox, where manager Ozzie Guillen said he hadn't been a big-game pitcher.

"I don't really want to get into, you know, Ozzie said this or whatever," said Vazquez, who has a 142-139 record and 4.19 ERA in 12 seasons.

He will make $11.5 million next year and can become a free agent after the season. New York's top four starters will combine for $64 million in payroll -- more than four teams paid their entire rosters last season.

The trade allows Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes to remain in the bullpen.

"There's a whole domino effect that this one transaction actually has through our 12-man pitching staff," Cashman said.

A versatile switch-hitter, Cabrera made $1,425,000 last season and is eligible for free agency after the 2012 season.

"He has the ability to play all three outfield positions," Wren said. "He's just the perfect complement for the way we like to play the game."

Logan, acquired by the Braves from the White Sox in the Vazquez trade in December 2008, was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 20 relief appearances. He held left-handers to a .231 average and figures to fill the hole created by the departure of Phil Coke, who was sent to Detroit in a deal that brought the Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson.

The 24-year-old Dunn had a combined 99 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and Double-A Trenton, going 4-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 38 relief appearances. He made his major league debut on Sept. 4 and had a 6.75 ERA in four appearances.

Vizcaino, who is 19, was 2-4 with a 2.13 ERA at Class A Staten Island, striking out 52 in 42 1/3 innings.

Information from ESPN.com's Jayson Stark was used in this report. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.