Of course, the Cubs managed to trade Zambrano to the Miami Marlins in exchange for his replacement in the rotation, Chris Volstad. However, such a deal was only achieved through Chicago’s willingness to pay the Marlins $16.45 million of the $18 million that Zambrano is owed for the 2012 season.
After acquiring both Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineada a little over a week ago, Burnett has become extraneous to the New York Yankees, and with $16.5 million owed to him for each of the next two years along with a no trade clause that allows him to block deals to a third of the teams in the Majors, he isn’t exactly the type of extraneous asset that’s easily traded.
While it’s true that like the Cubs, the Yankees would very much like to trade a no longer wanted pitching asset (and in order to do so, they’ll have to eat a large portion of the money remaining on his contract), ultimately, the two scenarios aren’t really comparable.
First of all, $33 million over two years for Burnett is a much larger waste of money than the $18 million for a season that Zambrano (four years younger than Burnett) was owed. But secondly, and most importantly, New York doesn’t need the same type of return from a salary dumping deal that the Cubs needed when they finally rid themselves of Zambrano earlier this month.
Several New York writers are suggesting that the Yankees only have one hole to fill ahead of the opening of the 2012 season, and that’s at designated hitter. While the team would certainly benefit from having an extra bat that could make plate appearances as a DH, that’s really all they need. A full-time DH is likely unneccessary.
One of the main reasons that the Yankees were willing and able to trade Jesus Montero to acquire Michael Pineda is that Montero’s best fit in the Yankees lineup was at DH, a position that the rotting corpses of Derek Jeter (until after 2013) and Alex Rodriguez (until after 2017) will need to be open for the foreseeable future in order to offer any value whatsoever on the huge amounts of money that they’ll be making as their careers wind down.
The type of bat that New York truly needs is in no short supply on the free agent market, even at this late date. Given limited plate appearances, none of Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Hideki Matsui or Manny Ramirez would break any bank or be seen as a bad investment. In fact, Wilson Betemit is another option that’s out there, who could also allow A-Rod some additional rest by playing third base from time to time.
The point is that the Yankees can afford to give Burnett away to whatever team is willing to eat the most salary. They’re not limited by having to ask for something in return. And while Burnett has become the target of much derision during his time in New York, perhaps a trip to the National League Central or West Divisions would revive his reputation a little bit.
Considering that the Arizona Diamondbacks freely, of their own will, spent $6 million on a season from Joe Suanders, surely another team would be willing to spend some money on a lottery ticket for a chance at making good on Burnett’s redemption.