The Texas Rangers on Wednesday traded Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to the Yankees for future considerations. Wilson, a four-time Pro Bowler, is expected to appear at the Yankees' Grapefruit League camp in Tampa, Florida, sometime in February or March.
Wilson, 29, has no plans to emulate Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson and try to reinvent himself as a two-sport athlete, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN. But he's maintained his love for baseball and wants to continue his ties to the sport.
He has long expressed a desire to play for the Yankees, and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and his New York counterpart, Brian Cashman, have spent several weeks working to accommodate his wishes, a source told ESPN.
"We've admired Russell's career from afar for quite some time," Cashman said in a statement. "This is a unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his profession.
"After talking to a number of our players, there is a genuine excitement in having Russell join us for a short time in camp. We are all looking forward to gaining insight into how he leads teammates toward a common goal, prepares on a daily basis for the rigors of his sport, and navigates the successes and failures of a season."
Wilson will be assigned to the Double-A Trenton roster, the Yankees said.
Wilson tweeted on the trade and expressed his gratitude to the Rangers in a statement.
"I want to personally thank the Texas Rangers for giving me the chance to experience professional baseball again," Wilson said. "Growing up taking grounders, hitting BP, and throwing deep post routes early in the mornings with my dad and brother is where my love of sports came from, and those memories stick with me every morning I wake up. I remember how excited I was when Texas selected me in the Rule 5 Draft in December 2013. During my two springs in Arizona with the Rangers, I was reminded just how much I love the game of baseball.
"While football is my passion and my livelihood, baseball remains a huge part of where I came from and who I am today. I've learned so much on the baseball field that translates to my game physically and mentally playing quarterback in the NFL. I thank the Rangers and their great fans for making me feel at home and a part of the family! While I embrace the chance to be a New York Yankee, I will forever be grateful to have been a part of a world class organization like the Texas Rangers."
It won't be the first time that the Yankees have flirted with a football star. Sanders began his baseball career with the Yankees in 1989, playing two major league seasons. Former Broncos QB John Elway played 42 games for Class A Oneonta in 1982.
Wilson played two years of professional baseball as a second baseman in the Colorado Rockies' system after being selected in the fourth round of MLB's 2010 first-year player draft. He hit .229 with 5 home runs in 315 at-bats for both Tri-City of the Northwest League and Asheville of the South Atlantic League during the 2010-11 seasons.
The Rangers selected Wilson off the Colorado roster in the December 2013 Rule 5 draft, and he made one-day cameo appearances at Texas' Cactus League complex in Surprise, Arizona, in 2014 and 2015.
"I never want to kill the dream of playing two sports,'' Wilson said during a 2015 interview with HBO's "Real Sports."
The Rangers, however, said they were content with inviting him to spring training and having him share his experiences as an elite athlete with players throughout the organization.
"Russell has the competitiveness and work ethic to where he'd have a shot if he committed to baseball," Daniels said in a 2015 interview. "Obviously, he's got a pretty good thing going on with the Seahawks, and we're not going to get in the way of that. Playing quarterback is more intensive than the positions of other guys who have attempted to play both sports."