Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 2/10/12

First of all, yes, I’ll admit it: I’m eating my words right now. After writing my aggressively-headlined “Good Luck Shopping A.J. Burnett, Yanks” piece on Wednesday, it turns out the Yankees have found at least one potential suitor for Burnett in the Pirates. The two sides are still haggling over how much money the Yankees should eat, but considering the Yankees’ incentive to get rid of Burnett, it seems likely that a deal will happen eventually.

Trading Burnett is a no-brainer for the Yankees; they would be freeing up payroll space while simultaneously opening up a spot in their rotation for Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia. But why would the Pirates be interested in adding Burnett?

As it turns out, the Pirates are in a unique predicament that makes them one of the few teams in the majors in a position to add Burnett. They have a weak rotation, headlined by the enigmatic Charlie Morton (who had off-season surgery and is doubtful for the beginning of the season) and the injury-prone Erik Bedard, and they have been rebuffed by numerous free agent pitchers this offseason. They offered Edwin Jackson a three-year deal, but he turned it down in favor of taking a one-year deal with the Nationals; they also attempted to woo Roy Oswalt, but he has limited his search to a handful of contending teams.

Burnett is no Oswalt or Jackson. He has upside in Pittsburgh’s park — which is considerably less home-run-prone than Yankee Stadium — but he’s still only a +2 to +3 win pitcher who is under contract for two more seasons. He’s not the final piece that will allow them to put together a competitive team, and he’s not going to be able to compensate for the other holes in the Pirates’ rotation. He’s an improvement and will likely come at a good value — although the Yankees had better be ready to pony up more dough — but why are the Pirates spending their resources on a mediocre upgrade?

Teams that have struggled for a long period of time have a vicious cycle holding them down, making it difficult for them to become contenders. Losing teams generally have weaker revenue streams than successful teams, and they face the added challenge of the top free agents typically don’t want to go to a perpetually losing team, even if they are offering boatloads of money.

Based on this offseason’s progression, it seems like the Pirates are stuck in that position. They have some exciting young position players, but they desperately need to add pitching depth if they want to take their club to the next level. And even if A.J. Burnett doesn’t solve all their problems, he’s got three things going for him: he’s a step in the right direction, he’ll come at a fair value, and he isn’t going to say no. Even an incremental upgrade might make it more likely that the next player the Pirates pursue will say yes.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye releases first statement following car crash

Report: Brock Osweiler could have made more money staying with Broncos

Andrew Luck: Feels `as good as I've ever felt` for training camp

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Reggie Bush reportedly closing in on contract with Bills

Report: Eric Berry planning to no-show training camp

Eagles could have interest in Gordon if Browns trade him

Report: Fitzpatrick, Jets not likely to have deal before camp

Michael Vick: Cam Newton can’t beat me in 40-yard dash

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

Odell Beckham Jr. says Giants will play in Super Bowl LI

Iowa researchers say they can optimize Monday Night Football ratings with scheduling

Terrelle Pryor can visit Ohio State as five-year ban comes to a close

Rudy Gay admits to having ‘no idea’ about what the Kings are doing

Report: Kansas City Chiefs' Justin Houston likely to miss regular-season games

Padres reportedly making progress on Cashner trade

NFL Network to stream on PlayStation Vue

Report: Eagles’ Nigel Bradham charged for assaulting cabana boy

Rudy Gay underwent minor Achilles procedure this summer

Bashaud Breeland brought puppies to Washington camp

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker