Both Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and Buster Olney of ESPN are reporting that the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates have come to an agreement on a trade that will send beleaguered starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh in exchange for two mid-level prospects. The Yankees will pick up $20 million of the $33 million owed to the right handed pitcher.


Update: According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, one of the prospects is Diego Moreno, a 25 year old right handed pitcher who had a 2.5 K:BB ratio splitting time last season between High A and Double A.

We’ve been over this several times in the last two weeks, so much so, in fact, that at this point you can be forgiven for thinking that I’m only now writing about the trade in order to use the above picture of Burnett one last time. It appears as though the Yankees attempted to sweeten the pot for Burnett by stalling on the swap, but the Pirates didn’t bite, and now the deal will get done, merely days before Burnett is expected to report for Spring Training.

As I wrote when rumours of the deal first began to come out, if the Yankees were willing to eat $20 million of the $33 million remaining on his deal, Burnett could pitch exactly as he had over the last two seasons (the two worst of his career), and still be a worthwhile addition to a team in which he wouldn’t be blocking a younger pitcher with higher upside from entering the rotation. And this is exactly the scenario that’s played out for him to come to Pittsburgh, a team that has reportedly had Torontoesque difficulty in luring free agents.

With the previous addition of Erik Bedard this off season, it’s not exactly clear how the Pirates starting rotation, which could include any five of Bedard, Burnett, Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens, James McDonald and Charlie Morton, will shape out ahead of Opening Day. However, it’s not unreasonable to expect Burnett to enjoy the change in competition that he’ll be facing when he shifts leagues and divisions from the American League East to the National League Central. That’s not to mention the advantage he should enjoy pitching in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, which most metrics point to being more of a pitcher friendly park than Yankee Stadium.

Thinking more about the Pirates rotation, it’s not unreasonable to expect any of the six pitchers listed above to either be the team’s ace or eventually relegated to bullpen duties.

For the Yankees, the $13 million that the deal frees up in payroll is most likely to be reinvested in a cheap free agent contract to one or two of Eric Chavez, Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero or Raul Ibanez, with the preference being for a left handed bat to be added to the roster.

Comments (25)

  1. Do we know who the prospects are yet?

    • Not yet. But they don’t sound significant.

    • Diego Moreno is one according to MLBTR. His numbers look decent in AA (the second time around) so maybe he’s not a total waste of space. But who knows.

      • BA’s #16 pirates prospect
        Goldstein says he’s #9

        • The Good: Prior to the 2010 draft, Moreno had the best pure arm in the system, sitting at 94-96 mph with his fastball and routinely touching 98. Unlike many power-armed relievers, he has plus-plus control, walking only eight of the 174 batters he faced in 2010. He’s also unique in that his best secondary pitch is a changup with deceptive arm action and good late action.
          The Bad: Without a plus breaking ball, some scouts have trouble seeing Moreno as a future closer, as his slider if often overthrown in the upper 80s and lacks two-plane break. His fastball can be a bit flat at times, and he lives in the upper part of the strike zone. He can wear his emotions on his sleeve when pitching and has trouble getting out of trouble because of it when he’s not dominating.
          Ephemera: Right-handed hitters facing Moreno in the Florida State League went 7-for-80 (.088) with two walks and 31 strikeouts.
          Perfect World Projection: Some see closer potential, some see a set-up man.


  2. That is an amazing photo.

    • The hair colour matches the Pirates team colour. All he needs is a Johnny Depp eye mascara application and he’ll be a true Pirate.

  3. Not so sure that it’s not in the Yankees interest to still go after Abreu. He still hits righties better than any of the other current free agent candidates. If they give the Angels the prospects they got from Pittsburgh and get them to cover any difference in salary, the Yankees end up with the trade they wanted in the first place.

  4. Check out the splits, AJ Burnett pitched better at Yankee Stadium than on the road in ’11:

  5. There could be no fitter punishment for Burnett than pitching for the Pirates. Burnett Walks the Plank!

  6. So the Yanks are getting Moreno and Cayones.

  7. He has an extensive no trade list and Pittsburgh isn’t on it???

    • Cancelling every West coast team out eats up a lot of the teams on a NTC.

      • I think that just goes to show you that AJ cares more about his family than his job (maybe).

        In most profession, this makes you normal. In baseball, this makes you crazy? I dunno. I dislike the guy, but mad respect if he is willing to give up a spot on the Angels for the betterment of his fam.

        • Giving up on a chance at the post-season is what makes him crazy. It is commendable putting his family ahead of that though. It’s not like he’s turning down dollars by blocking the Angels.

  8. Does his wife still get free limo rides from Maryland?

  9. why are people insulting and saying the pirates are garbage and a farm team/minor league team serioulsy is everyone’s memory gone because this team has McCutchen, Walker, Hanarhan, Alvarez, Tabata, Presley, Karstens, McDonald, Corriea, and Mortan to name a few so stop with this bogis stuff and insults and saying that they shouldn’t be even in the your saying that a team that was leading the NL Central after the allstar break is a “minor league” team so really get your facts straight first before you make incorrect comments k!

  10. @Dustin

    3words: Grammar, punctuation and spelling.

  11. I think Pittsburgh is overpaying, for what it’s worth.

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