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Yankees close to trading Habyan for Assenmacher AMERICAN LEAGUE


NEW YORK -- In the midst of revamping their beleaguered bullpen, the Yankees are close to sending right-hander John Habyan to the Chicago Cubs for left-handed reliever Paul Assenmacher. Sources indicate the Yankees have agreed to pick up Assenmacher's entire $2.58-million yearly salary, which could be the final hurdle to a deal.

Assenmacher, 32, has been steady but unspectacular during his Cubs and Braves tenures and is 2-1 with a 3.53 ERA in a set-up role this year. Yankees general manager Gene Michael and the Cubs' Larry Himes have discussed for weeks a trio of Chicago's left-handed relievers, the others being Chuck McElroy and Dan Plesac. The Cubs have been reluctant to part with the young, hard-throwing McElroy. In previous attempts to land him, the Yankees offered Hensley Meulens, among others.

The Yankees had hoped to acquire a less costly lefty reliever but apparently found it would cost them a prospect to acquire a younger, cheaper set-up man. The Cubs, according to one report, showed strong interest in Bobby Munoz, but the Yankees were adamant about keeping him.

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