Can the Yankees trade A.J. Burnett?

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If the Yankees have made one thing clear this off-season, it’s that they will explore every possible avenue in pursuit of rotation upgrades. That’s plural, because they might not be satisfied with just one new pitcher. With options on the free agent, international, and trade markets, they could seek multiple pitchers to complement CC Sabathia. If Freddy Garcia returns as well, it could create a crowded rotation situation. The Yankees could then look to trade one of the lesser pitchers in their rotation.

Phil Hughes could be one of those candidates. After an impressive bullpen run in 2009 and an exciting start to his 2010 season, he has fallen off considerably. While he did improve, to some extent, as the season rolled along, he’s still at the nadir of his value. Could the Yankees even get as much for Hughes as the Giants got for Jonathan Sanchez? The low return makes trading Hughes a difficult proposition. It might still happen if they can find an eager taker, but it’s hard to imagine a team placing significant value on him in a trade.

That leaves A.J. Burnett. Yankees fans aplenty would love to see Burnett walk out the door rather than endure the final two years of his contract. The Yankees do have the ability to trade Burnett, as he can block trades to 10 (unknown to us) clubs. But as with most big-money players, his contract acts as a no-trade clause. The Yankees would have to eat significant money in order to entice another team. But with the possibility of freeing up some money and a rotation spot, might the Yankees be willing to cut their losses on Burnett?

The Yankees still owe Burnett $33 million through 2013. That’s a large chunk of change for a pitcher who ranks among the worst in baseball during the life of his deal. Since 2009, of the 59 qualified pitchers, Burnett ranks 57th in ERA and 55th in FIP. He looks slightly better in xFIP, as his 4.19 mark ranks 45th, but with almost 600 innings under his belt in that span it’s hard to believe that his xFIP has more relevance than his ERA. Even if we remove some level of survivor bias and count any pitcher who qualified in even one of the three included seasons, Burnett ranks 69th out of 73 in ERA and 67th in FIP.

The Braves recently ate a considerable portion of Derek Lowe‘s contract when dealing him, so the Yankees may have a model for a Burnett deal. Lowe ranks 53rd in ERA out of those 59 pitchers with 500 IP since 2009, and was only 0.22 better than Burnett while facing pitchers and pinch-hitters rather than DHs. An equal comparison would have the Yankees eating $22 million of the $33 million remaining to Burnett. Any acquiring team would then get him at two years and $11 million. That still might seem steep for a pitcher of Burnett’s caliber, but it might not that bad a deal considering the market alternatives.

With a relatively weak free agent market, the Yankees could certainly find a team interested in Burnett. He’s not in C.J. Wilson’s class, and he’s definitely a notch below Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, and Roy Oswalt. He’s better, at least in terms of talent, than Jason Marquis, Brad Penny, and Paul Maholm; at the very worst he’s at their level. Since he’s stayed on the mound for the last four years he’s more reliable than guys such as Rich Harden, Chris Young, Erik Bedard, and Joel Pineiro. That could make him an attractive target to a few National League teams.

What could also make Burnett attractive is his controlled cost. At $5.5 million per season a team would know what it’s getting into. Many of these free agents could sign for much more money and perhaps one more year than that. Chien-Ming Wang, who has thrown 62.1 innings in the last two years, got a $4 million guarantee. While that deal itself doesn’t necessarily set the bar, the dearth of free agent pitching could certainly push up prices. If we look to last off-season as a guide, Jake Westbrook got two years at $16.5 million, as did Carl Pavano. Javy Vazquez, coming off an unimaginably bad season, got $7 mil. Those types of deals can happen when there’s not much pitching on the market.

An acquiring team wouldn’t have to part with much to acquire Burnett. Again, if we use the Lowe trade as a model the return could involve an afterthought minor leaguer. But the return isn’t as valuable to the Yankees as the roster flexibility. Moving Burnett means they’d have an extra rotation spot this spring. They could choose to sign a free agent, such as Buehrle, and also trade for a starter. Alternatively, they could do one or the the other and keep rotation spots open for competition among Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, Hector Noesi, Adam Warren, David Phelps, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. It also leaves room for a known pitcher on a minor league deal, such as Bartolo Colon or Rich Harden.

Chances are, trading Burnett will prove prohibitive enough as to render it practically impossible. Any pitcher, and particularly an ineffective pitcher, which such a large contract already has an effective no-trade clause. But given the Yankees’ situation, they might deem it worthwhile, given the extra rotation spot and the $6.5 million per season they’d gain from such a deal. This definitely seems like one of those stealth moves that Cashman pulls from out of nowhere.

Thanks to Eric Seidman of FanGraphs and Brotherly Glove for helping me work out this idea.

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  • Jasphil

    Does anyone realize that CJ Wilson has led the AL in walks (in ’10) and was 6th in the league last year? How much longer until this “effective wildness” just turns into a bloated ERA and burned out bullpen?

    • CP

      As soon as he stops striking people out and getting a lot of ground balls.

      Incidentally, his 8.1% BB rate in 2011 was equal to Nova’s.

  • Darren

    It doesn’t make any sense at all for the Yankees to trade Burnett before the season starts.

    Unless and until the young pitchers develop to the point where they can really replace him in the rotation, they can use his 200 innings, despite his inconsistency and erratic nature which is likely never to go away.

    The Yanks just don’t seem to have any interest at all in paying the salary of a player not on their team. They will Igawa you to death or stick you in the pen before they eat $$. And it’s not like they really need the $6.5 mm they would save.

    Despite the fans’ animosity to Burnett, Girardi, Cashman and the Yankees organization seem to like Burnett and feel he’s a good guy.

    And he’s going to bring you low level prospcts at best.

    So, wait and see. If CC, Nova, Hughes, Freddy and Noesi/Betances/Warren/Phillips all do the job, maybe you’ll see an in-season move. But now? Won’t happen.

    • Kosmo

      When Cashman and Girardi speak of Burnett it sounds more like a display of diplomacy than that they genuinely like the guy given that he´s stunk up the place for 2 seasons at 16.5 million per. 2009 seems like a long time ago.

      • Slugger27

        people always romanticize his 09 season because of his performance in game 2, but 2009 was actually pretty mediocre as well.

        i would say hes underperformed in every season as a yankee. at this point, though, the expectations are so low that itd be hard to underperform going forward.

        • Kosmo

          I´m certainly not romanticizing his 2009 season but he did pitch more to his career norms than any other year as a Yankee.
          He was signed because he was coming off a decent 2008 season but that was when his fastball was still in the mid to upper 90s. He´s not that pitcher anymore.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Technically he’s only had one season pitching 200 innings or more but even with his innings totals his WAR for the past two years were below league average.

      And elite reliever was worth more than 180-190 innings of AJ Burnett.

      • RetroRob

        He’s averaged 195 innings pitched over his three years with the Yankees, including 190 last year. So technically you’re correct, yet I don’t what you’re trying to say.

        Mariano Rivera had a fWAR of 2.4 to AJ’s 1.5, so technically you’re correct that an elite reliever (do they grow on trees?), did deliver more value than AJ, yet I don’t know what you’re trying to say.

        Both those points could be used to support AJ.

  • Kosmo

    6.5 million per over 2 years is a good value if Burnett can pitch to say a 4.25 ERA in the NL. My question would be what do the Yanks get in return ?

    • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

      Salary relief. A prospect on par with what the Indians gave the Braves for Derek Lowe.

      • CP

        But how much do the Yankees really value $6.5M per year in salary relief? They spent more than that on DLLOOGYs this year.

        • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

          Who knows? I’m sure they value it, but whether its worth it in this case is the question.

    • Slugger27

      they wouldnt get anything in return… a wordekemper or kevin whelan type prospect. the “return” would be not having to pay the full $33M

      • FIPster Doofus

        And having a rotation spot freed up for a (presumably) better pitcher.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          This would really be the point behind the trade.

    • CMP

      How about not having to look at that tattooed up hillbilly with the stupid look on his face walking back to the dugout with his tail between his legs after getting blown off the mound in the 4th inning that we saw so many times this year.

      • Rainbow Connection

        Racist comment.

      • CP

        after getting blown off the mound in the 4th inning that we saw so many times this year.

        Burnett starts that ended in the 4th inning this year: 0

        Burnett starts of less than 4IP this year: 1
        Burnett starts of less than 5IP this year: 3

        • Jose M. Vazquez..

          For what it is worth: AJ never got cold feet like a few others we have had in playoffs or WS.

        • Jimmy

          Am I stupid or does this make no sense:

          if x = # starts less than 4 IP
          and y = # starts less than 5 IP

          and y – x =/= 0,

          then # starts ended in 4th inning =/= 0.

          • j

            If he pitches four complete innings, and gets two outs in the fifth, that is 4.2 innings, which is less than 5 IP, but the start ended in the fifth – not the fourth.

          • j

            Or more simply put, a start that ends in the fourth inning is not a 4IP start, its a 3.1 or 3.2 inning start.

            • Jimmy

              Crap. I guess I am stupid, then. I always suspected it.

  • mt

    I don’t see it although would love to have it happen. The Lowe deal was for one year – even in the presented scenario in this post for AJ, Yanks would have to eat $22 million for two years in a world where there is no obvious starting pitcher that he is currently blocking (Manny B or Betances are not ready at start of season; don’t want to acquire CJ Wilson/EJax; Hughes and free agent Garcia have their own issues and doubt surrounding them). I can more likely see AJ being traded next year with one year remaining on contract where there would be a more obvious replacement like Manny or Betances (hopefully AJ can improve performance to bottom third of pitchers rather than bottom fifth of pitchers and improve his trade value) – Yanks can then look at the $10-$11 million contribution as a large buyout to get rid of AJ :-)

    I hope they get Buehrle (2 year max with a team option) and Garcia (one year max) this year and we hopefully can get 5 good starters out of CC, Nova, Buerhle, Garcia, Hughes and Burnett plus Warren/Phelps/Noesi. I want a second lefty. I would also be OK if they passed on Garcia if they definitely got Buehrle.

    The one, admittedly very small positive for Yankees’ risk that the 2013 class (like Hamels and Cains of the world) may be signed by their teams to early extensions, is that maybe AJ might look a little bit more attractive next year in a trade.

  • Rich in NJ

    I think there are two teams that may believe they can maximize AJ’s remaining talent: the Phillies because of his mentoring relationship with Halliday, and the Cardinals because of Duncan’s track record with reclamation projects.

    As for Hughes, the Yankees have too much invested to accept the expected current return. So there is no reason to trade him now.

  • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

    Definitely don’t want to see Hughes traded. I’ve said it before and I’ll say plenty more, but I think Hughes is in for a solid 2012.

    As far as Burnett, as much as I hate him at times, I’m not quite sure its worth it to trade him for a piece that isn’t going to help us AND still pay a large chunk of his remaining salary.

    If/when he’s blocking one of the kids, go ahead and move him, but I’m not jumping at this idea right now….maybe I should go back and watch some “high”lights.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      He’s not blocking the kids, true. But he probably is blocking better a better move. You gotta give Hughes the spot just to see if you can get something out of him, but basically the bottom half of your rotation has question marks all over it if it’s CC/someone else/Nova/Hughes/AJ. Hell, for that matter the whole non-CC staff has question marks all over it. If they can replace AJ with like John Danks or someone else good, they probably should.

      • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

        Good points. If/when we get those better pitchers, it might be a good idea to unload him and get whatever they can get.

  • UYF1950

    Sorry, I just don’t see the Yankees “eating” a huge chunk of AJ’s salary for the 2 raining years on his contract. Although God knows I wish they would. I can see the Yankees doing the “Derek Lowe” thing after this the 2012 season though. If they have to eat $9 or 10MM that’s a lot better than $20M. Plus moving him after this upcoming season frees up a roster spot for for someone from the FA class of 2013. For the rest of this off season I do see them looking for and signing 1 more pitcher whether it’s a FA or via a trade. My best guess is Yu Darvish if he gets posted or perhaps a possible trade for someone like Danks or maybe even Gio Gonzalez. We’ll see the winter meetings aren’t that far off.

    • UYF1950

      sorry should read, “2 remaining…” at the end of the 1st line above.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      They don’t need to dump him for financial flexibility. Roster flexibility, perhaps, but its a bit premature right now to speak of those things when there are open rotation spots. He may have worn out his welcome with the fanbase, but I don’t think he’s worn it out, to that extent, with the team just yet.

      I’d be mildly surprised if AJ finishes this contract wearing a uniform other than Yankee pinstripes.

  • Grit for Brains

    AJ Burnett for Jason Bay?….Bay gets to restore value at YSIII, and then get traded again?

    • Rich in NJ

      Bay’s road split:

      .215 .297 .321 .618

      Pass.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      There’s no one in the lineup that he should play over.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      Then they’d have to trade Swisher. Maybe Bay needs a return to the American League. I’m sure Kevin Long can fix him. I’m all for it, but I don’t see it happening.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Burnett > Bay.

      • viridiana

        Wonder if Burnett’s ERA would look much better if just first five innings of each start is counted. I know guys should pitch deeper than that but seems to me much damage against him was done in 6th and 7th, inflating stats. Not to say he was good…but not quitre as worthless as overall stats suggest.

        • Slugger27

          http://www.baseball-reference......;t=p#innng

          the stats say he was mediocre to awful in just about every inning but the 3rd inning this past year.

          • CP

            Maybe he should just pitch the third inning?

            • FIPster Doofus

              A $16.5 million third-inning guy? That’s right up Randy Levine’s alley!

    • Slugger27

      id rather have burnett. not particular close either.

      bay would be the worst hitter on the team with the possible exception of martin and jeter. not only that, his option could easily be guaranteed by a plate appearances clause.

      • ChooChoo

        Burnett ranks almost at the bottom of the birdcage for the last two years when compared to all other starters in the league.
        To say that you would rather have him than Bay, and that it’s not even close is puzzling at best.

        • FIPster Doofus

          You know who else ranks at the bottom of the birdcage for the last two years when compared to all other starters in the league? Jason Bay.

          • ChooChoo

            Not really the point when you focus on the assessment “not particularly close.”
            A guy as bad as Burnett has been is not ahead of anyone—not even by a nostril.

            • FIPster Doofus

              It’s still not particularly close between Burnett and Bay when you factor in their positions. The Yankees already have two excellent corner outfielders, so where would Bay play? He’d be an $18 million bench player who’s inept both offensively and defensively.

              Does Burnett suck? Sure. But most bottom-of-the-rotation starters do. You can live with him in a 4/5 role if there aren’t any better options; whereas, with Bay, the Yankees clearly have far better options.

              • ChooChoo

                You are certainly entitled to your opinion. Even your other opinion that we have two excellent corner outfielders. We don’t, in my opinion.
                You can like some of the stuff Gardner does and some of the intangibles he has all you like. My opinion, which is worth about as much as yours, is that the word “excellent” should never be uttered in order to describe Brett Gardner as a corner outfielder, or any place else on a major league baseball field.
                I can rattle off a minimum of ten things right off the top of my head which would dispute the notion that Brett Gardner is an excellent corner outfielder.

                • FIPster Doofus

                  Feel free to rattle them off, then.

                  Gardner’s one of the best defensive outfielders in the league, and he’s a pretty solid offensive player as well. Neither of those is an opinion; they’re facts.

                  Bay doesn’t hold a candle to Gardner at this stage of their respective careers.

                  • ChooChoo

                    Just a few tidbits why excellent and Gardner are not in the same zip code–especially as it pertains to a corner outfielders.
                    2011 OPS .713
                    Career OPS.721
                    2011 OPS+ 89
                    Career OPS+ 91
                    2011 OBP .345
                    Career OBP .353
                    2011 OPS against power pitchers .504
                    Career OPS against power pitchers .658
                    2011 batting Average .259
                    Career Batting Average .264
                    “Pretty solid offensive player?”
                    “Excellent Corner outfielder?”
                    Utterly laughable.
                    When you use the word excellent–consider perhaps Ryan Braun or Jose Bautista.

                    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

                      I’m sure Mr. FIPster Doofus was regarding Gardner’s defensive ability and speed, which at his position is “excellent”.

                    • FIPster Doofus

                      Gardner since becoming a starter in 2010…

                      -Thirteen in fWAR, wedged between superstars Matt Holliday and Dustin Pedroia.

                      -Tops in UZR (50.9). Second best is 24.1.

                      -Second in steals (96).

                      -.364 OBP

                      He’s also dirt cheap. Let’s make sure to replace him with Jason Bay, though.

                  • Sarah

                    FIPster, Gardy haters are gonna hate. Nothing you can say will change their minds.

                    You come join me in the Gardy Fan Club Box. The view is nice and seats are cheap.

                    • FIPster Doofus

                      And the people are smart. I’m in.

                    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

                      Save a seat for me.

                • Slugger27

                  regardless of whatever your 10 reasons are, you cant possibly think jason bay is a better baseball player at this point than brett gardner. theres just no way you believe that.

                  when you factor in salaries, the argument is more laughable than it already was.

                  • ChooChoo

                    I never said that Bay was better than Gardner. Essentially my opinion is that Burnett is horrible, not preferable to hardly anyone else in a baseball uniform, regardless of where they play or what they do, and that Gardner is not excellent.

                    • FIPster Doofus

                      Gardner’s not excellent because he doesn’t fit your narrative of what an excellent player is. Your narrative doesn’t take into account defense, on-base percentage or the ability to run. That’s your problem.

            • Slugger27

              the reason its not particularly close, is because burnett at least plays a position of need – that is, a starting pitcher capable of giving 200 innings.

              we already have 3 quality, 3.5+ WAR outfielders, and we already have montero for DH. where would we put bay?

              they both suck, i dont think anyone will argue against that. but id much rather have the starting pitcher instead of the outfielder given the roster the yankees have.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      restore value as the 4th outfielder? how would this happen?

    • Brian S.

      Hell no. Two year albatross>three year albatross.

  • Robert

    Burnett > Garcia, right?

    • Grit for Brains

      On 1 yr equal money deals, I think there is an argument to be made but 1 yr/8 mil Garcia > 2 yr/32 mil Burnett

      • Robert

        But they wouldn’t be getting back all of AJ’s salary.

    • FIPster Doofus

      No.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      No actually. Garcia’s 2011 was better than either of AJ’s last two years. Clearly the Yanks thought more highly of him as well based on where they started him in the playoffs.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      Hell no.

    • Slugger27

      i dont think anyone could confidently say that.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      I think Garcia is massively overrated. But he’s still a fuckton better than AJ Burnett.

      • Slugger27

        garcia is seen as nothing more than a 5th starter guy on a 1 year deal. how could he possibly be “massively overrated”

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Are you serious? Everyone here clamored for him to start game two of the ALDS. No one though it would have been Nova.

          • Slugger27

            i was under the impression nova starting game 2 was pretty much a foregone conclusion before they announced it.

            and where ppl wanted him to start in the ALDS has little relevance to where he fits in the rotation for 2012. it was the playoffs, people wanted to go with the hot hand. im sure people wouldve liked colon in that spot too, but it doesnt mean those same people are ready to give colon an integral spot in the 2012 rotation.

            nothing ive seen on this forum or any other indicates people view garcia as anything more than a back of the rotation innings eater on a cheap, 1 year deal. “massively overrated”??? i dont see it…

          • Ed

            I think that varied highly based on the time of year. Colon peaked early, Garcia peaked when Colon started fading, then Nova peaked late. People just wanted whoever was hottest at the time to start game 2, which made sense.

  • CMP

    Anyone with a half a brain knows the smart move is to dump Burnett if possible and save whatever money you can. Cashman and company however are determined to compound their mistake by keeping him in the rotation for as long as he’s a Yankee.

    The guys has been worth 1.3 and 1.4 WAR over the last 2 years. Some combination of Noesi, Warren, Phelps and DJ Mitchell should easily be able to match that lousy production.

    • UYF1950

      I don’t disagree with your premiss. But how do you get rid of 1 pitcher in the rotation and replace him with 2 pitchers?

      • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

        Sign Free Agents, or give the kids a shot…

      • CMP

        Replace AJ with one pitcher from the group of Noesi, Warren, Phelps or Mitchell.

        • Kosmo

          Or you cobble together 30 Starts from the group of 4 you mentioned. Go with the hot hand.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      “Anyone with a half of brain” = slight hyperbole.

  • theboogiedown

    At $16.5mm per, if the Yanks agree to eat half his salary and Burnett can achieve a modicum of success elsewhere it would only attribute to about 4% of Yanks payroll and would be a great get at $8mm for another team. Should be able to attract something with that, no?

  • Dan

    If Cashman is really lucky, maybe he can find a GM similar to Reagins (or whoever the Angels GM was that agreed to take on all of Wells contract) and they will be willing to take on all of Burnett’s contract in hopes that the change of scenery will allow him to revert back to his pre-2009 form.

  • Bronx Byte

    Burnett can block deals to 10 teams but his wife has a dislike for flying. He lives near Baltimore but the Orioles won’t eat half of his remaining salary.
    The Nationals and Phillies have the financial means. Who would the other 8 teams be ? Definitely not a west coast team.
    Either way, Burnett is as good as he’ll ever get. His fastball won’t gain velocity, just lose some. He doesn’t repeat his mechanics so he’ll always have wild pitches from curve balls thrown wildly in the dirt.

    5 years/$82.5M (2009-13)
    signed by NY Yankees as a free agent 12/12/08
    09-13:$16.5M annually
    limited no-trade clause (Burnett may block deals to 10 clubs each year)

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Two years left? If they’re willing to eat money and send him to an NL team that needs to get innings out of their staff, sure. If they get rid of him the ideal (realistic) rotation is probably:

    CC Sabathia
    Yu Darvish
    John Danks
    Ivan Nova
    Phil Hughes

    re-sign Freddy to be the long man and step in if and when one of the starters gets hurt or proves ineffective for a bit.

    The depth chart would essentially be:

    Sabathia, Darvish, Danks, Nova, Hughes, Garcia, Noesi, Warren, Phelps, and Banuelos. Probably re-sign another retread to a minor league deal just for the added depth, never be too safe…and that’s probably a championship caliber pitching staff.

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      I’d even be fine with a front five of:

      Sabathia
      Danks
      Nova
      Hughes
      Garcia

    • UYF1950

      Love it. I’m in, now all we have to do is convince Cashman to go after Darvish and Danks.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        They’ve sent some serious heat to scout Darvish in Japan. They’re interested, as well they should be.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        I’m sure that’s somewhere on his list, next to that 2PM Friday massage.

  • RetroRob

    Cashman confirmed two weeks ago that the Yankees had a deal for AJ last offseason, but they didn’t pull the trigger because they couldn’t easily replace AJ’s innings. They lost out on Cliff Lee, and then Andy Pettitte announced his retirement, so they were already confronting the scenario of having at least one rookie full time in the rotation. The Yankees suddenly found themselves in a situation where they were inviting players like Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon to camp, while also knowing that the rookie Nova was going to have to eat up a lot of innings. Under that scenario, AJ had value. Having a MLB pitcher cranking out nearly 200 innings is important, even if they’re not great innings, so no way the Yankees were going to chip in more than $30 million dollars of salary relief for the remaining three years of AJ’s contract and then have to fill another 200 innings simply because AJ just came off a bad season and he wasn’t popular with the fans.

    That, however, was last season and the Yankees have a clearer view of the situation and more options. The Pettitte issue has passed and they’re not putting all their eggs in the Cliff Lee basket. If they can bring in two starters from the Buherle, Darvis, Jackson, Wilson, Danks, etc. ranks, and have Freddy Garcia as a fall-back option, then AJ Burnett is no longer necessary, and in fact he’ll be blocking better options. The Yankees AAA starters from Noesi, Warren, Phelps Mitchell, Banuelos and Bentances are also another year developed and much more ready to help on the big league club. AJ will also be easier to trade since he only has two years remaining on his contract instead of three. And if AJ’s new club is paying approximately $5.5 million of his salary, then that’s actually closer to $8 million a year in “savings” for the Yankees when factoring in the luxury tax. More roster flexibility, less money, better pitching options. No-brainer.

    If the Yankees do their job this offseason and bring in two starters, it is no longer a question of if AJ will be traded, it’s just a question of when. The Yankees will pull the trigger this time.

    • well you know

      “Cashman confirmed two weeks ago that the Yankees had a deal for AJ last offseason, but they didn’t pull the trigger because they couldn’t easily replace AJ’s innings.”

      Do you happen to have a link for that? I don’t recall a report of that particular comment.

      • Bronx Byte

        Replace Burnett’s innings ? How often has Burnett thrown past 5 innings and replaced because he blew a lead the team gave him ?
        He finds a way to implode not long after he’s gone past an opponent’s lineup once.

      • RetroRob

        Cashman mentioned it during a radio interview with Francesca.

    • Steve (different one)

      Cashman never said that. That would have been a huge story.

      • RetroRob

        He did. I heard it. Cashman went through the scenario of why AJ wasn’t moved. I was also surprised it wasn’t picked up or even mentioned here on RAB, yet it also confirms how the obsession with AJ over here is not quite as high in other places.

        • Steve (different one)

          Ok, I assumed you were talking about that press conference he did. I’ll take your word for it

        • well you know

          This is the podcast of the Francesa interview. There is a discussion of Burnett at 24:32 with no mention of any attempt to trade.

          Further towards the end, in a discussion of last offseason, Cashman does say that there were some “almost” deals that didn’t happen, but he says they were “small” and failed because of physicals. Nothing about Burnett being involved, which would not have been a small deal.

          http://newyork.cbslocal.com/?p.....cid=CBS.NY

          • RetroRob

            Thanks.

            I have zero doubt he said it. He did a few radio interviews right after he signed the contract, so it might have come from one of the others and I blurred them together, but he definately said it.

            Let me see if I can find it tomorrow. It will be troubling if I can’t, since that leaves only one other possibility: auditory hallucinations!

    • Sad

      So the Yankees would still pay Luxury tax on the portion they are still paying? Is there way around that?

  • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

    I’m really hoping that the Padres could get in discussions with the Yankees about a possible trade for Burnett. I’m not sure how far their discussions with the Red Sox and John Lackey got, but it’s worth a try. If they can get any value in return I’m all for it.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      The only reason why Hoyer was interested was because he wants to continue kissing Theo’s ass.

    • CJ

      Lackey, now that’s a bad contract, expensive, nonproductive, injured and detrimental.

  • CJ

    Horrible idea. I don’t believe in eating salaries as a matter of policy. Unless a team is seriously cash strapped and handcuffed by the contract or if the player is a detrimental clubhouse presence. Really, AJ for all his poor FIP’s and x-FIPS’s has not hurt this team and made a major contribution to 2009 Championship.
    If eating salaries is a productive policy, let’s see what happens with Zambrano, Soriano, Zito, Figgins, and Bay. Simply put why pay $20 million for AJ to improve for another team? As bad as he was in 2011, Yanks had the AL best record and he pitched well in ALDS.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      No they won in spite of him not because of him.

      • Dan

        I am not sure I agree with this. If the Yankees had someone else go in Game 2 of the World Series and lost the Yankees would be down 2-0 going to Philly and most likely would have lost the series. I would say they won the World Series in a big part because of him. They have won and made the playoffs in spite of his bad performances, but you cannot say that they won the World Series in spite of him.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        Not true.

    • Ted Nelson

      It doesn’t make sense to just eat salary indiscriminately. I don’t think you’ll get too much argument there.

      It basically makes sense when the money saved (the portion you don’t eat) is more valuable than the alternative of keeping and paying the player. Like Derek Lowe… nearing end of contract and better alternatives on the roster. If AJ Burnett is the Yankees long-man, one can definitely argue that saving, say, $10 million to just get similar production in the low-leverage role out of a Wade, Ayala, Noesi, Phelps, etc. is better for the team.

      Till this point AJ has still had a lot of life on his contract and a possibility of getting better. The life is wasting away and so is the chance of a recovery. As Joe lays out, it would take having a strong rotation with better alternatives to move AJ. If they go into the season with CC, Nova, Garcia, AJ, Hughes, and the AAA depth… then no, I doubt they’ll eat some of AJ’s salary. For better or worse it’s possible that he ends up a CC injury away from being their #1 starter in that case.

  • Polargirl

    No one mentioned the salary cap effect. Burnett’s remaining $33 million dollars would have been taxed at 40% under the old collective bargaining agreement and will likely be taxed higher under the new one coming out in a month. A.J’s salary costs the Yankees $46.2 million so another team eating $11 million saves the Yankees $15.4 million. The acquiring team is not likely to have exceeded the luxury tax threshold once let alone three or more time repeat offender status that the Yankees have so $ 11 million is $11 million to them. If the Yankees can reduce their financial liability from Burnett’s contract from 46.2 million down to $30.6 million, you better believe it they will. The savings of course will likely be steeper under the new collective bargaining agreement.

    • Tom Swift

      That’s assuming his replacement would cost the minimum. That’s the problem with all these trade scenarios — who replaces AJ? What they will do is hold on him for another season and hope for some sort of rebound.

      • Polargirl

        His replacement likely will cost the minimum as it will be either Noesi or someone from AAA. It can also be $0 dollars since the Yankees already have to pay for Hughes and Chamberlain whether or not they are in the rotation.

        It costs the Yankees 40% more under the old CBA to see if AJ can rebound than it costs almost every other team. That is why he is certainly going to be traded. Salary cap and roster relief are more important to the Yankees than holding onto hope AJ can rebound.

  • AJavierkei Pavagawnett

    AJ Burnett appreciation thread!

    Eh…

    Keep Burnett until you have a better #5 starter. Given how good the offense and bullpen is, odds are you win half the games he starts, and he’s good for ~200 innings a year.

    The way the rotation looks so far: CC, Nova, ???, ???, ???.

    Potential #3-5 starters include Hughes, Noesi, and Garcia, as well as minor league options including Phelps or Warren.

    If you don’t trade for or sign a solid starting pitcher, you are going to need 3 starting pitchers out of that group to fill out the rotation.

    All of the following are possibilities (if not probable): Noesi could not pan out as a starter, Hughes could continue to be terrible, and Garcia could get hurt or be ineffective, the minor league pitchers could not be ready.

    And don’t forget that with only one year a starter Nova isn’t totally proven.

    All of a sudden having AJ at the back end of the rotation eating innings sounds pretty good.

    And I do think people in the organization and teammates like AJ. I don’t think he’s a Zambrano in the club house.

    That said, if you sign Wilson or Buerhle (neither of whom I like) and there are only two spots at back of rotation, AJ loses his appeal.

    Likewise, if a Warren or Phelps or Noesi looks really good as a starter part way through the season, AJ’s stock diminishes.

    However, no reason to cut bait right now.

  • Mike HC

    I think AJ holds more value to the Yanks pitching for them than he does in a theoretically “fair” trade.

    • Polargirl

      Not when you factor in luxury tax, especially under the new collective bargaining agreement. Please stop being one of those posters that looks only at the baseball side of a transaction and almost complete ignores the business side.

      • Mike HC

        hahah … ok, I will stop that.

        I admittedly don’t know the ins and outs of the new collective bargaining agreement or how trading AJ will factor into the luxury tax, but taking all that into account, I still think the Yanks are better off with AJ pitching in the rotation, than paying for him to pitch for another team, getting a basically non usable or easily replaceable prospect in return.

        • Ted Nelson

          “I still think the Yanks are better off with AJ pitching in the rotation, than paying for him to pitch for another team,”

          Depends who your alternatives are… The Yankees could easily have 7, 8, 9 10 better options already in the org., or they could have 1. So I don’t think it’s time yet, but when the alternatives are clearly better I’d move him.

          Basically the $ saved + roster/rotation/bullpen spot + trade return would be greater.

          • Mike HC

            Agreed. My opinion is that the alternatives are not better than AJ plus the salary/luxury tax relief. I would rather hold on to AJ.

            • Mike HC

              Now, if our rotation was CC, Lee, Pettitte, Nova and Hughes/AAA guys, I would probably think moving AJ even for money/salary relief would be worth it. But that is not the case.

              • Ted Nelson

                I wouldn’t be in a rush to move him this second, but I do think we could be close to that time.

                An acquisition and a Garcia re-signing or two acquisitions… and you’ve got 4 spots taken care of with a bunch of guys fighting for one spot: AJ, Hughes, Noesi, Phelps, Warren, Mitchell, Banuelos, Betances… 8 guys for 1 spot. Given his recent performance I think your odds are better of finding one solid starter among the other 7 than Burnett.

                And once you get in that situation, Burnett’s already really low trade value might actually decline a little bit since you have less leverage. So if the Yankees plan to, say, blow Yu away (for example, just an easier sign IMO if you win the bid compared to an MLB pitcher with 30 potential bidders who might Cliff Lee them) and bring Garcia back… now might be the time. If they want to buy a year, maybe not.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        Unless you’re a CPA with specific expertise in sports management, demanding that others “look at the business side” is laughable at best. This is a fan board, not a board meeting.

  • Ted Nelson

    Good analysis. Basically makes sense if the money saved + roster spot + any return is more valuable than having AJ on the roster. And as you say, if they acquire some P and/or their youngsters step up… that’s possible.

    I would point out that Wang finished the season strong. I would imagine they think he’s at a Freddy Garcia “finally healthy” moment, and might have some medical evidence to back-up the probabilities of that given that he’s been in their org.

  • UncleArgyle

    Burnett and 22 mil to San Diego for life time passes to the San Diego Zoo.

    Why for the Padres:

    Burnett should be more effective in the NL West and a Spacous Ballpark like Petco. The 5.5 annual salary is roughly what they paid Aaron Harang last year.

    Why for the Yankees:

    The San Diego Zoo is awesome. The “Roar and Snore” Camp Ground would make an excellement location for team building exercises.

    • Polargirl

      Do the Yankees have to trade the Bronx Zoo for the San Diego zoo? I’m just curious if this is just a moderate upgrade zoowise or an outright acquisition that will make the Bronx the zoo capital of the world.

      • Steve (different one)

        The bronx zoo is now in boston

    • Steve H

      Burnett should be more effective in the NL West and a Spacous Ballpark like Petco.

      While this argument makes some sense, it’s very flawed. Every single pitcher in baseball would be more effective there, so it’s much easier for San Diego to find pitchers that can have success at home, therefore, there is very little reason for them to give up much of anything in terms of prospects and/or money.

      • UncleArgyle

        therefore, there is very little reason for them to give up much of anything in terms of prospects and/or money.

        They wouldn’t be giving up prospects or money. Just free passes to the San Diego Zoo. I think its a fair trade. Have you seen the baby Rino’s there!?!

        • Steve H

          Ok, I’m sold!

    • Slugger27

      isnt that the zoo from anchorman?

      id gladly make that trade… do season ticket holders get passes?

  • Brian S.

    If we can “Derek Lowe” AJ Burnett than I am all for it. That 5-6 million you save this next year and in 2013 could go towards someone who does not suck.

  • http://NYBronxBombers24-7 Brian

    I hear you there and I hope the yanks don’t go after Wilson he’s like a left handed Burnett you don’t know what your going to get when they take the mound

    • tino is cool

      That’s excatly what I told a few of my friends. He’s excatly a left-handed Burnett. BUYER BEWARE!

  • tino is cool

    You have to keep Burnett. He gives us innings and depth in the rotation. I know, depth is the wrong word but, he does throw 195 innings a year for Girardi. Brian Cashman should be concerning himself with the trade market or the FA pool. I would stay away from C.J. Wilson, Yu Darvish (i.e. Irabu and Igawa) and Edwin Jackson. I would sign Mark Buerhle (His fastball command is perfect) and then use the open 5th spot for open competition between Phelps, Warren or Noesi. I believe in the “patient” mode. CC,AJ,Nova,Buerhle,Warren,Phelps,Noesi isn’t too shabby. The Yankees offense should carry the bulk of the load in 2012. Brian Cashman could be taking the same game plan that he took in the 2007 offseason. Wait for next year for the elite FA class and then pounce on the top FA pitchers. Remember, you have pending FA pitchers like Hamels and Cain in the 2012 offseason.

  • YankeeFan16

    I would keep Burnett for his innings , as far as I’m concerned I would trade Hughes, Betances, Cervelli and Nunez for Gio Gonzalez and maybe Brian fuentes and the sign Darvish our rotation would look like this:
    Cc
    Darvish
    Gonzalez
    Nova
    Burnett
    I would be happy with that rotation

  • Hornets686

    How about A.J. for Ted Lilly?

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