MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) February 17, 2012
After a week of twists and turns in the Yankees-Pirates trade negotiations involving RHP AJ Burnett, the deal has been finalized. New York will be sending the 35 year-old righty to Pittsburgh in exchange for Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones. Burnett is owed $33 million over the next two seasons. The Yankees will take on $20 million of that salary, leaving the Pirates with the remaining $13M. The Bucs will pay Burnett $5M in 2012 and $8M in 2013. The deal will be complete Sunday as long as Burnett passes his physical.
From the Pirates standpoint, this a really good deal. We were able to add on to the payroll without giving up too much. Unless they make it big in the Bronx, giving up Moreno and Cayones shouldn’t be a big deal. Plus we added a real arm to the rotation. There were comparisons drawn to Matt Morris, but that is nowhere near accurate. Burnett can instantly improve the Pirates staff. Now that he is out of the bright lights of NYC, he should be able to settle in, especially with a weakened NL Central. Although his numbers with NYY aren’t particularly strong, they should improve with the move to the National League. This article about the Jeremy Guthrie trade proves the point about pitching struggles in the AL East. The last 9 starters to leave the AL East lowered their ERA by an average of a full run in new division. Hopefully Burnett can do the same.
Although it may not be a huge factor, Burnett had success with new Bucco catcher Rod Barajas in Toronto. It’s always great to have a solid battery-mate and Burnett has done well with certain catchers. Also, it has been said Burnett works well with the younger pitchers, so hopefully he’ll help out guys like James McDonald and Charlie Morton with their development.
Earlier this week, it was reported that a few other teams had jumped into negotiations with the Yankees. The Indians offered DH Travis Hafner, which would’ve solved the Yanks’ need for a lefty designated hitter. Hafner would’ve been a good fit, but the deal was dead within a few hours. Also, the Angels wanted Burnett but they were on his no-trade list. Thankfully for the Pirates, his wife is afraid of flying, so AJ didn’t want to relocate his family from Maryland out to the west coast. Now it is coming out that the Phillies were the mystery team involved in talks with the Yankees. However, this never had a realistic chance of happening.
The Burnett deal brings upon a few options. Since Morton is likely to start the year on the DL, we are probably looking at a rotation of Bedard – Burnett – Correia -Karstens – McDonald (in no particular order). However, once Morton comes back, we’ll likely see Correia moved to the bullpen, but it all depends on the current status of the rotation. Since Bedard, and even Burnett, are so injury-prone, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them on the DL at some point this season. Therefore, Correia could sneak back in, while Brad Lincoln is also in contention if a spot opens up. There a few long-shots for the rotation, such as Jo-Jo Reyes, Shairon Martis, etc. We’ll see how the staff unfolds in 2012.
For the Pirates to be successful this season, numerous pieces have to fall into place. One of, if not THE, most important factor will be the offense. The Buccos lacked offense last season, and it really hurt them. There hasn’t been much done this offseason to make up for it. We’ll especially need Pedro Alvarez to return to form as soon as possible, and other guys to step up as well. However, the pitching staff is also very important for the Bucs. Pitching was what kept the Pirates in the race last season, and they need to keep it up for success in 2012. Erik Bedard and AJ Burnett must show their veteran experience and set the example for the young guys of the staff. As long as the pitching staff does their job, we’ll have a chance. If not, it could be another long season in Pittsburgh.
We’ll get our first glimpse of AJ Burnett in the first few days of Pirates camp next week. But the real fun starts in 47 days at PNC Park against the cross-state rival Philadelphia Phillies. Buckle up Pirates fans, Opening Day is right around the corner.