Found February 13, 2012 on

The New York Yankees will trade starting pitcher A.J. Burnett at some point, and it could very well happen as soon as within the next few days. At this point, I do not expect Burnett to make it to Tampa as a member of the team when the Yankees begin Spring Training.

It appears most likely that Burnett will be dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates. For what compensation remains unclear. New York asked for first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones, but were quickly rebuffed. The Pirates are one of four teams interested in obtaining Burnett, obtaining to Buster Olney of ESPN, who also reported that one of the teams involved in trade discussions is on Burnett’s veto list, meaning he would have to approve a deal to that team. Olney also reported that Burnett is unlikely to accept a deal to any west coast team. He could be sent to Pittsburgh without having to consent.

Burnett still has two years remaining on his deal worth $33 million. If he is traded to the Pirates, the Yankees are expected to still have to pay roughly $23 million  of the remaining $33 million of his contract. That basically translates to the team being more inclined to pay him $23 million over the next two years to not pitch for them instead of paying him $33 million to keep him in their rotation.

At this point, the Yankees are looking to do two things by dealing Burnett. They do not constantly want to be asked by reporters who will be taking the No. 5 spot in the starting pitching rotation in 2012, so by trading Burnett, those questions would simply go away. If the Yankees have to decide between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes, that is something they can handle. By adding Burnett to the mix, especially considering his numbers, his “issues” and his salary, that is one headache the Yankees would prefer to avoid.

A.J. Burnett could soon be headed out of The Bronx.

Secondly, and perhaps equally as important, New York is still looking to add another bat to its’ lineup, preferably a left handed hitter who can platoon between an outfield option as well as a part time designated hitter. It first appeared as if manager Joe Girardi was pushing the team to sign Raul Ibanez, mainly due to the fact that he could still man left field from time to time, as well as the fact that his swing would fit quite well in Yankee Stadium.

But there still remains the possibility that New York could welcome back one of two former favorites in Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui, both key members of the team the last time they won the World Series in 2009.

The bottom line is that Burnett must go, and it does not seem to matter all that much as far as what the Yankees receive in return. Give them credit for asking for the moon in Jones, who Pittsburgh would be foolish to trade away. They also know at this point that the Yankees are looking at Burnett as a salary dump.

Which, in a way, is quite odd, as the Yankees are generally on the receiving end of a salary dump by a team who signed a player to a bad deal and need to purge him from their books.

But this could work out well for Burnett, as well as the Pirates.

Burnett has seen his ERA rise in each of the past few seasons as a member of the Yankees. At 35-years-old, he no longer has the stuff to pitch against the loaded lineups of the American League East. Put him back in the National League, where he once enjoyed great success as a member of the Florida Marlins, and he could rekindle some of that magic. The lineups are much weaker, and he could put up decent enough numbers to win a few games with the Pirates, who could possibly turn around at the trade deadline and deal him to a contender for a package of prospects.

This has the makings of a win-win situation, which is rarely the case in Major League Baseball.





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