Report: Several teams kicking the tires on Burnett


(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

While we all focused on which starting pitcher could join the Yankees at the Winter Meetings, a rumor about a pitcher that could be leaving the team caught us (or at least me) somewhat by surprise. The New York Post reported that the Yankees were shopping A.J. Burnett in Dallas, and that they were willing to eat $8M of the $33M left on his contract to facilitate a trade. Burnett was and probably still is considered untradeable because of his contract and poor performance over the last two years, but that wasn’t going to stop the team from trying to move him.

Today, buried in an article about the Rangers winning the negotiating rights to Yu Darvish, George King says that several teams are “kicking the tires” on acquiring Burnett, but the Yankees will have to eat more than that $8M if they want to get serious about a trade. Joe wrote exactly that earlier this month, suggesting they may need to pay about two-thirds of the remainder of his contract to make a deal happen, a la the Derek Lowe trade. Even then, they’re likely to get little in return, a fringy prospect or maybe a spare bench piece in the best case. Either way, if the Yankees intend to move the righty, they’re basically going to have to give him away.

Burnett has a partial no-trade clause in his contract, one that allows him to submit a list of ten teams he would reject a trade to each year. Clubs like the Padres, Nationals, Tigers, Diamondbacks, and Rockies are reportedly in the market for an arm, so I’m sure at least one of those teams kicking the tires is not on the partial no-trade list. The problem is that the Yankees aren’t exactly in the position to give away pitching away at the moment, and Burnett is still a safe bet to take the ball every five days and give the team innings. They might not be the highest quality innings, but they are innings. Trade him, and the rotation becomes CC Sabathia, Freddy Garcia, and a bunch of kids in the three through nine spots. That can work, but it doesn’t mean it’s ideal.

Of course, there’s always the option of adding an arm while still trading Burnett. We know all the names by now — John Danks, Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda, Gio Gonzalez, etc. — take your pick and that guy is almost guaranteed to be better than A.J. next season. The cost of acquiring each of those guys is very different, so at the end of the day the Yankees will have to decide between three options…

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Eat money to trade Burnett and acquire another pitcher
  3. Keep Burnett and acquire another pitcher

Number two is probably the most preferable because the team would save some money even if it’s just $6M a year for the next two years, but they would also be out an arm. Again, not the highest quality innings, but still innings. They’ll come in handy when one of the five projected starters inevitably gets hurt, and I say that only because no team makes it through the season with exactly five starters. Ultimately, I still don’t think any team will bite and trade for Burnett, and frankly the report of other teams kicking the tires isn’t all that surprising. Any decent organization would look into all available options, Burnett being one of them.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Leg-End says:

    If we shift AJ its great news, but only if Montero & ManBan stay out of trade talks to replace him.

  2. Mike Myers says:

    If we only saved like 5MM, I dont see how thats worth it. 2 years left and he can still get 12-15 wins with out lineup. Let it ride, abuse his arm, and let him go.

  3. Mike Myers says:

    If we only saved like 5MM, I dont see how thats worth it. 2 years left and he can still get 12-15 wins with our lineup. Let it ride, abuse his arm, and let him go.

  4. CJ says:

    I don’t believe it’s wise to pay $10 million for him to throw 200 innings for another team. At this point he is the #3/4 starter in this team. The day you don’t have a roster spot for him because you have better players you can cut him and eat the contract.

  5. Jesse says:

    Please Cashman, eat more money, deal Burnett and replace him with Kuroda!

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      i don’t understand the argument of “at least AJ gives us innings” those innings are always going to be there to be had.. the guy is a mental midget who doesn’t know how to make adjustments and his innings are unbearable to watch. Even if he has a decent outing, its just a matter of time before he implodes bc he doesnt know how to maneuver around a lineup the 3rd or 4th time thru.. If the team saves $6 mil, that pays for your bench… worth it to me. kuroda would fit.brilliantly if he decides he wants to pitch here.. i mean rite now ya got a rotation of 80% question marks. We all hope nova can duplicate it improve on his success but there have been plenty of pitchers who have had success in their rookie year and unable to make the adjustments that the league undoubtedly will.. no need to explain the rest of the wildcards but if u can get rid of AJ, do it and do it quickly and rexcop from there

  6. Jason says:

    I think moving Burnett is the best of options. Innings are great but I think you could find cheaper innings that might even be of a higher quality. Say you trade Burnett and save 6 million a year and get prospect(s) in return. You can perhaps look at a guy like Joe Saunders to givee you those innings, and based on his previous contract, can probably be had for less than 6 million. Throw in a Kuroda deal, and CC,Kuroda,Saunder,Nova,Garcia/Hughes/Noesi/etc. presents a pretty good rotation.

  7. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    If anyone can get AJ to good form it is Dave Duncan who has taken on more difficult projects than Burnett an had success. I had suggested previously on RAB, that they should trade AJ for Kyle Lohse another of Duncan’s projects. Although Lohse has less upside than AJ he can eat up some of AJs innings at less cost. Of course, the Yankees would have to eat a large part of the latter’s contract. AJ would be closer to his home and be happier. At the moment he is too embattled to ever make it in NY again.

  8. TheOneWhoKnocks says:

    If we can move him now and save some money, fine. All for it. But if we aren’t able to, we should move him to the bullpen. If Burnett shows he can dominate out of the pen, he could generate a lot of interest at the trade deadline. I just don’t want to see Burnett in the rotation any longer when he clearly isn’t one of our best 5 options (Hughes and Noesi, who both still have upside to reach deserve those opportunities, and eventually Banuelos and Betances will as well)

    I think there’s a team out there that will be willing to take Burnett on if it means they only pay him 8-12m over the next 2 years.

  9. Brooklyn Ed says:

    please get him out of the AL if he is indeed being traded.

  10. Rainbow Connection says:

    It’s a Christmas miracle!

  11. Gonzo says:

    AJ + Romine for Felix.

    They’d have to throw in money though.

  12. Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

    Too bad Tony Regans resigned…we might have been able to pull off a Burnett for Trout trade a la Vernon Wells for Mike Napoli.

  13. ADam says:

    I think you have to at least be willing to eat 10-12 million of this contract. We’re throwing 11 million a year away on Kyle Farnesworth 2.0… what the big deal about eating another 11 million?

  14. Dan says:

    If they eat some of Burnett’s contract it should pretty much be a lock that they would go hard after Kuroda. I doubt they are going to part with the prospects being asked for in trades (at least two of Montero/Betances/Banuelos). Getting Kuroda and trading Burnett will still save the Yankees money and it gives them a decent front four of CC, Kuroda, Nova, Garcia. Hughes gets the fifth spot and if he struggles or gets injured, Noesi and Warren will get a chance.

  15. Dan 2 says:

    Why is Freddy creeping up to be a sure thing at RAB? Do you really think that his 2012 potential is greater than Nova, Hughes, Noesi, etc? If Freddy can hold the fort as the # 5 starter we should be satisfied.

  16. Kosmo says:

    It will cost more than eating 8 million of his remaining contract to trade Burnett. I´m sure a few million more is negotiable.

  17. JGS says:

    They’ll come in handy when one of the five projected starters inevitably gets hurt, and I say that only because no team makes it through the season with exactly five starters.

    • Gonzo says:

      That’s freaky.

      • JGS says:

        Only five teams in the Modern Era (1901-) have ever given starts to as few as five guys (and none have done four). Two in 1901, one in 1904, the Dodgers in 1966 (Koufax and Drysdale made 40+ starts apiece)…and the 03 Mariners. Wow.

        • Gonzo says:

          Now that is a bar wager I will keep in my back pocket.

        • RetroRob says:

          …which means that the 2003 Mariners are the *only* team in MLB history to never use a swingman from the bullpen to start a game during the season. All those other teams existed before the introduction of the five-man rotation, so they were at times calling on “help” to supplement the main starters. The 1966 Dodgers, for example, had Joe Moeller start eight games.

          The Mariners were the only team to use its starters all the way through the season.

  18. Bronx Byte says:

    Take the posting money that would have been used to land Darvish and eat half of Burnett’s remaining salary ($16.5MM). It’s addition by subtraction by not spending another season of wondering when Burnett will implode during a game.


    Washington is the best suitor being near his home.

  19. cranky says:

    Cashman ought to trade AJ for whatever he can get.
    I think a good comp for AJ is Javier Vasquez. The latter stunk up NY but was good elsewhere.
    The Marlins paid Vasquez about $11m last year. That’s a reasonable price for an innings-eating power pitcher. And AJ is a little younger than Vasquez.
    if Cashman needs to eat $12m to trade AJ, so be it. That would be $20m+ saved on a contract which is, at present, just a waste.
    I don’t know which teams are looking for a starter, but I can think of several NL teams for which AJ would probably be a good performer: St. Louis and Miami come immediately to mind.
    Aj would probably bring back little in return, but getting rid of him would be a + for the Yankees. He’s not at all a bad guy, or anything like that, but he is unreliable and wears out the bullpen.

  20. Ted Nelson says:

    To save $25 million that could be thrown at a Kuroda or Jackson, I’d be fine with trading Burnett. Getting down to the more realistic savings of maybe $10-12 million… I don’t know that it’s worth it. It’s not my money, though, obviously.

    Burnett’s 2011 was actually very similar to his 2009, except that he gave up a ton more HRs. I don’t expect an ERA of 4 next season, but I certainly think it’s possible. His HR-rate spiked in 2007 and went well below his career average in his career 2008.

  21. Greg says:

    here’s a trade – Burnett to the Angels for Bobby Abreu. Abreu has $9M left on his one year deal, and he’s totally surplusage for the Angels. Yankees would have to kick in some money (say $12M). Wouldn’t the Angels be better with two years of Burnett at $21M than one year of Abreu at $9M? Even if you just make Burnett an 8th inning guy in front of Walden.

  22. Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

    I think the roster flexibility which trading AJ offers is worth making the move. Even if he’s performing even worse than he has the past two, he’ll continue to be in consideration for a rotation spot which could be spent seeing if one of the AAA arms has what it takes. Sticking him in the bullpen blocks a guy like Kontos. They’re just not god scenarios. Thank you for the pies, 2009, and the one playoff spot last year, AJ. We’ll see you at Old Timers Day, and cheer, when it’s all said and done.

    • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

      I agree, particularly wrt starters. I’d love to give some of the other kids a real look. And no I don’t mind if they stink and we miss the playoffs for a year to see what we do/don’t have. Start with Noesi and go down the depth chart from there.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Aside from money considerations and long-term flexibility, I think you keep the veteran in front of the kid(s) to make the kid(s) earn it. If the kid earns it, you move the veteran aside. If the kid doesn’t earn it, you’re not left holding your junk out in the cold because you still have the vet.

      I also think AJ deserves to be in consideration for a rotation spot at this point. Are there definitely 5 better starters in the org. Hopefully there are, but far from certain. Not only does it depend on how good the kids are, it also depends on how good AJ is. If he keeps the HR-rate down I think he can be solid.

      • Dan says:

        Valid point, the problem is if you wait until the end of ST to make the kid earn his spot, you remove plenty of potential suitors for AJ. Right now, teams are noticing how overpriced the FA and trade market are so Burnett at 2/25 might not look so bad when compared to giving Jackson 5 years and 60+ or having to give up 2-3 of your best prospects for a #2 or #3 starter. This is probably the best time to move AJ, I think you move him and replace him with a Kuroda or something similar and still make the kids earn it.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          I don’t think 2/25 is realistic. If they can save $25 million and spend it on Kuroda… I’d be for it. I think something more in the Derek Lowe area is realistic. I disagree about Burnett’s attractiveness. Jackson is over 5 years younger than AJ and has averaged 3.7 fWAR the past three years. He’s been the 20th most valuable SP in baseball over the past three years according to fWAR. I would much rather pay him $60 mill over 5 years than pay Burnett 25 over 2. Or I’d rather pay Kuroda than Burnett. And if I’m a small budget team I’d rather take my chances on Colon, or Saunders, or anyone cheaper than $12.5 mill per.

      • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

        I agree with everything you’re saying, Ted. I’m just not bullish at all on AJ showing the kind of consistency needed to make the rotation an easier situation.

        At this point, if it was me running the team, I’d roll the dice with the rest of them and let AJ figure it out somewhere else.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Yeah, I can see that. Considering luxury tax implications with replacing him with Noesi/other minimum guy would also strengthen your point.

          As a fan I’d rather see them keep AJ to preserve depth. See if he’s got it together in 2012. If it’s totally not together just leave him out of the rotation from jump, and if it might be together give the replacement a little longer in AAA to incubate and prove himself vs. the other candidates.

  23. pat says:

    So long AJ. We’ll always have Game 2 of the 2009 WS.

  24. Lime says:

    Shoot, if he’s from MD, send him to the Orioles. Their off season has been so depressing, AJ would lift their spirits. Sadly for them, I’m only being partly sarcastic. Angelos is doing a great job at setting the stage to bury the franchise for a decade.

  25. MannyGeee says:

    so for sake of reference, if you think that replacing AJ for less than $6M is feasible in this market, take a look at who has signed for that range or less this winter:

    Freddy Garcia – $4M
    Bruce Chen – $4.5M AAV
    Chen Ming Wang – $4M
    Dontrelle Willis – $1M
    Tsuyoshi Wada – $4.075M
    Chris Capuano – $5M AAV
    Erik Bedard – $4.5M

    shit, i miss AJ already and he hasn’t even been traded yet.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I’m not in favor of jettisoning AJ for the sake of it, but is AJ any better than any of those guys? I think it’s pretty easy to make a case that they could easily replace him at that cost. I like AJ’s upside, but even there I’d take Wang or Bedard (and maybe Wada, know next to nothing at him).


      AJ: 2.9 fWAR
      Garcia: 3.5 fWAR
      Chen: 2.9 fWAR
      Wang: 0.2 fWAR, but very effective late last season upon finally returning from injury… I look at him a lot like Garcia going into 2010
      Willis isn’t really comparable at $1 million
      Capuano: 2.1 fWAR, 1.6 of it in 2011
      Bedard: 2.4 fWAR

      • Jesse says:

        We can go back and forth if Burnett is better than those listed guys above, but the point is, A.J’s replacement will likely be Noesi, Kuroda, someone else from the minors, or someone else from the free agent pool that we don’t know of. But, gun to my head, I say that they’d sign Kuroda if they lose Burnett.

  26. Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

    More than anything it would be worth eating some of his contract just to not see his stupid face on the mound every fifth game, and hearing the same press conference afterwards…

    ‘Well, I just didn’t have it today, I’ve got to be better, blah blah blah.’

  27. chmch says:

    Let’s suppose Joba comes back. Now you have a bullpen core of Joba, Soriano, Robertson, Mariano. You need minimum effort from AJ with that kind of back-up. I’m no AJ fan, by any means, but the real dominant potential of Yankee pitching is the bullpen. It’s lights out most night.

  28. ColoYank says:

    Not every starting pitcher is going to give the same opportunity to win the day they start. That’s why teams have either guys who aren’t real successful, or they rotate a series of has-beens or wanna-be’s through the tail end of their rotations.

    It may sound funny, but a guy who gives you innings and a chance to win about half the time is still a solid asset. The Yanks went 16-16 in the games A.J. started last year, he threw 190 innings, and to me, that’s still an asset. I think the Yanks think more of A.J. than most fans do. Yes, I acknowledge the contract is cringe-worthy, but hey, they don’t have their ’09 ring without the guy.

    I wouldn’t give him away lightly.

  29. LiterallyFigurative says:

    Define Irony:

    We should trade Aj Burnett because of his wildness and blowups when he has 2 years remaining, eat 2/3rds of the money, and then should turn around and pay Edwin Jackson the same basic average salary for 4 to 5 years.

    Now, AJ has been bad, but I just don’t see what trading him now would do. He’s shown flashes of good pitching, and he’s already here. I’d have no issue with trading him and giving younger pitchers a chance, but not to basically pay 10 mil for AJ’s ghost and then another 12 for E-Jack.

    • Mike HC says:

      I would hope that the other pitcher would be Kuroda or Danks, or Gio Gonzalez (to a lesser extent). Not Edwin Jackson.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Jackson has been the 23rd most valuable SP in MLB the past two seasons according to fWAR and is theoretically entering his prime. AJ has been one of the worst SPs in MLB the past two seasons: 10th lowest fWAR among qualifiers.

  30. Mike HC says:

    I would rather keep him than pay him to pitch for another team and get nothing in return. AJ isn’t costing me any money. But I can see if I were the guy paying him, I might be looking to just save whatever money and can and get the same production from a minor leaguer.

  31. I Live In My Mom's Basement says:

    Exactly which parts of AJ are the “tires”? I’d certainly like to kick them!

  32. craig says:

    It could be that the Yankees decided that the money they saved by not having to pay the posting fee can now be used to go above the $189 million threshold in 2014…essentially freeing them up to pursue an expensive FA like Hamels. If they can save a few bucks on AJ and then sign Kuroda for a year, then that is a plus. They would also keep all of their chips in this scenario as a fallback.

  33. BK2ATL says:

    Please Cashman, make it happen. It doesn’t really matter what we get back. It’s what we get rid of. We’ll find the innings somewhere.

  34. Guns of the Navarone says:

    In my mind, there is absolutely zero downside to trading AJ even if it means saving only a few million. AJ hasn’t just been bad, he’s been one of the worst starters in all of baseball over the past two seasons. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that a combo of Noesi, Phelps, Warren can replicate or best his numbers over a full season. The Yankees have nothing but back-end pitching depth. Burnett’s “upside” is gone. It left the building. The Yankees should cut ties and get whatever they can get. Especially if it helps them save a few million to put towards another arm.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I agree with a lot of your argument, but I don’t agree with the conclusion because I don’t agree with the premise that AJ’s upside is gone. If he can cut down on the mistakes I think he’s still as effective as he was in 2009. I know that seems ridiculous, but the other numbers are similar across the board. Just the HRs. And a bunch of the HRs I remember came on just terrible pitches that stayed up in the middle of the zone… often when he was well ahead in the count.

  35. Burbankbogey says:

    The question I have is what is the cost for 200 innings? If we move AJ every penny which we eat annually goes toward those 200 innings from my thinking. you can apply it to Nova, Hughes, Garcia or someone from the outside but the money is still being spent toward the innings.

  36. RetroRob says:

    The Yankees would have to eat $18-20 million to trade AJ so his cost to the aquiring team is around $7 million a season. Take AJ out of the AL/AL East, and put him in a larger ballpark, and he’s certainly worth $6-8 million a season, especially if he can continue to give 190+ innings he has over the past four seasons.

    So, yes, he’s movable. Question is what is that worth to the Yankees? 190 innings to replace, and if the replacement part is going to cost more than the savings, then it’s costing the Yankees more money at a time when they’re trying to hold the line, and reduce, their payroll.

    I guess the easiest answer is replace Burnett with the 500K Noesi.

    • Qqqqq says:

      Kuroda on a 1 year deal. If we save $7 million then pay him $12 million, it adds only $5 million to the payroll and should theoretically add about 2-3 WAR. Absolutely worth it. Kuroda works as a perfect stopgap for Manny and Dellin, giving them the extra year they need without clogging up the rotation and holding them back in 2013 like AJ would.

      Stay competitive this season without screwing up the future at all. It’s a no-brainer to me.

  37. Kosmo says:

    The only teams I could come up with who might be interested in AJ are:

    I don´t see him as much of a fit elsewhere. StL has money to burn and a SP slot to fill. KC could use an experienced SP. Colorado and WSN are looking to add a SP. I don´t see a team like the Padres wanting a SP at 10-12 million per over 2 years. AJ on the Tigers ? Never going to happen.

  38. It'sATarp says:

    Now that both Kuroda and Oswalt are looking for one year deals, there no reason not to trade AJ if possible and sign those guys to one year contracts…

  39. G says:

    Kuroda on a 1 year deal. If we save $7 million then pay him $12 million, it adds only $5 million to the payroll and should theoretically add about 2-3 WAR. Absolutely worth it. Kuroda works as a perfect stopgap for Manny and Dellin, giving them the extra year they need without clogging up the rotation and holding them back in 2013 like AJ would.

    Stay competitive this season without screwing up the future at all. It’s a no-brainer to me.

  40. j form nj says:

    Can someone explain to me why Ivan Nova is being passed over when we consider the rotation? We see Sabathia mentioned, and a bunch of spare-parts. Why is Nova being considered as that extra, unproven guy now?

  41. Brian S. says:

    DO IT CASHMAN! It would be the greatest thing that could happen this offseason.

  42. Scott says:

    Love the idea of dumping Burnett, whether his spot goes to Kuroda/Jackson or procession of AAA’ers (Phelps, Warren, etc.) — but before I get all worked up: George King, the reporter who brings us this story, is the same crack journalist who drew 8000 links for reporting that Toronto was getting Darvish days before yesterday’s announcement? His stories are worth zero as a depiction or prediction of reality.

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