Yanks shopping Burnett at Winter Meetings


Ever since the conference call in which Brian Cashman announced his new contract it seemed inevitable that the Yankees would attempt to trade A.J. Burnett. After two horrible seasons, in which he produced the second-highest ERA among all qualified starters*, a move might be in the best interests of both parties. Burnett’s contract poses a significant obstacle, but even if the Yankees eat some money they can save on 2012 and 2013 payrolls, perhaps allowing them to add another starter via trade or free agency. According to The New York Post, they have already started spreading word of Burnett’s availability.

If the Yankees truly want to move Burnett they’ll have to eat a significant portion of his contract. The Braves set something of a precedent earlier this off-season when they ate two-thirds of Derek Lowe‘s remaining salary to facilitate a trade. Yet Lowe has just one year remaining on his contract, which made the situation a bit more palatable. With two years and $33 million remaining on Burnett’s contract, the Yankees would have to eat $22 million to keep pace. Yet according to the Post report they’re only willing to eat $8 million, or just under 25 percent of Burnett’s contract. While that certainly won’t get the job done, it is also just a starting point.

Since the last time we wrote about trading Burnett, the market has changed a bit. A number of mediocre pitchers have received multi-year deals, which might signal a willingness to listen on a pitcher of Burnett’s potential. The Royals signed Bruce Chen for two years and $9 million. The Dodgers double dipped, signing Aaron Harang for two years and $12 million and Chris Capuano for two years and $10 million. While all three pitchers have produced better results than Burnett in the last two years, all three are flawed in their own ways. It stands to reason, then, that another team could have interest in Burnett on similar terms. That would, again, mean the Yankees eating roughly two-thirds of Burnett’s contract.

The matter of compensation remains an open issue. Yes, perhaps some team is willing to pay Burnett $6 million per year for two years. But would they also be willing to give up something in order to obtain Burnett? While that might appear to complicate the equation, in this situation a Derek Lowe type return — low-level minor league pitcher — might suffice. That is, if the Yankees’ likely purpose in shopping Burnett is to trim payroll a bit so they can acquire an upgrade. Their reward in the trade is flexibility, rather than a player. That extra $6 million per season can go towards signing a free agent, especially from next year’s class, or acquiring a slightly higher priced starter.

If the Yankees do indeed trade Burnett, it will likely come after they acquire another starter. Trading him and then failing to acquire a starter would only deplete the depth they have built. Even then, the numerous complications with this deal could render it impossible to complete. The Yankees would have to eat far more than the $8 million they currently propose, and they’d have to accept almost nothing in return. Is that extra $6 million per year worth it to them? Or would they rather just hold onto Burnett and hope for the best? We likely won’t get an answer to that this week, since no acquisitions appear imminent. But we could get some action later this winter if any teams decide that they’d rather trade for Burnett than sign a scrapheap pitcher.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Kevin says:

    Burnett plus 11 million per season to the Marlins for Randy Choate.

  2. Gonzo says:

    Considering his HR/FB rate, he might do OK in a huge ballpark.

    I am not saying I would trade for him, but if a team whiffed on all its targets, AJ might be a Plan F emergency backup plan.

    I guess it all comes down to $. Doesn’t it always.

  3. Jason says:

    I think it will require 16-20 million included to get it done. Get what we can get for him, and we need to be ready to sign a FA pitcher or trade for one immediately.

  4. Burnett + money to anywhere for anything at all. Just so I never have to see him pitch for the Yankees for a full season again.

    • ChooChoo says:

      I couldn’t agree more. And if we can’t unload him for even someone marginal, do the right thing and dump him. If the broken Mets can do it with Ollie Perez, the Yankees can do it with this Chickenhead. If the argument is that Perez cost the Mets less than Burnett would the Yankees—not true when factoring in comparative organizational finances.

    • Jim says:

      Don’t let Mike here you say that. On the chat the other day I seem to remember him saying a Burnett for Jason Bay swap “doesn’t benefit the Yankees”

      • Need Pitching says:

        it doesn’t, losing an overpaid pitcher for an overpaid 4th OF doesn’t benefit the Yanks, you’d still be stuck with Bay
        this way you lose AJ without being stuck with anything

      • I also fail to see how a Jason Bay-for-A.J. Burnett swap at all benefits the Yanks. You don’t save money, and you just end up with a different underproducing, overpaid player.

        • JAG says:

          At a position of non-scarcity, no less.

          • craig says:

            This. I think that AJ actually has some value to the right team. he has pitched in the toughest division, in the toughest league, in a hitters park and faced one of the best-hitting lineups (based on all batters faced in 2010 and 2011). He almost certainly would have produced better results than Lowe did the last 2 years (Lowe was the opposite of the above caveats on AJ).

            An NL team in a decent-sized park for 2 years at $12-16 million is not a bad deal, considering what some of these other marginal pitchers are getting.

        • Jim says:

          “Burnett + money to anywhere for anything at all. Just so I never have to see him pitch for the Yankees for a full season again.”

          Apparently anything at all does NOT mean Jason Bay

          I think Bay’s upside makes the deal worthwhile. The guy hit 36 HR (21 on the road) the last time he was healthy while playing for Boston in 2009. You can’t just assume he’s going to be hurt again.

  5. China Joe says:

    Take the bait, Kenny Williams…AJ Burnett is basically the pitcher version of Alex Rios

  6. PhillyMatt says:

    I read today that Dodger GM Ned Colletti said after talking to Clayton Kershaw’s agent that he isn’t sure of Kershaw’s interest level in an extension,so Burnett+ pay most of the contract, and (input prospects here)for Kershaw. CashNinja make it happen!

  7. Soam says:

    I’m fine with moving Burnett just to save a few million. If we aren’t able to move him in a trade, I’ve love it if we stopped wasting a valuable rotation spot on him and just stuck him in the bullpen. Heck with the way the relief pitchers market looks, Burnett may be a more attractive trade market option if we stick him in the bullpen and he looks like a dominant closer option to some teams. Why keep giving chances to Burnett who’s days are numbered when we have a young promising guy like Noesi who can be a part of the long term plan here.

    • Dan says:

      I agree. If you’re willing to eat the contract, might as well get some outs of him. Plus there’s no 4th inning to implode in the bullpen.

      • Juke Early says:

        If somebody as good as Dennis Eckersley was re-born as a closer- maybe AJ should embrace that kind of move. While he may be able to thrive as a SP on an NL team, say way out West. For that to happen, somebody has to roll those fuzzy dice.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        As his contract winds down and better options present themselves, I can see the Yankees doing this. It’s just that there didn’t appear to be as many options in the past and, right or wrong, the length and dollars of his contract played into the team’s decision.

  8. Dan says:

    Maybe the Yankees (as usual) have already paid for a power pitcher’s inevitable decline years where he realizes he doesn’t throw 97mph anymore. 2010 AJ had the wheels fall off and he wouldn’t find the tires for 3 more games. 2011 AJ seemed to be more an artifact of a few REALLY bad outings outweighing his good ones. He arguably threw the best game of the postseason for NY which might be a sign he’s realizing his limitations. Once he stops throwing 93mph FBs like they’re unhittable 99s, maybe he won’t give up 26 HRs a game.

    Remember, Moose was garbage in 2007 before turning in a Cy Young type season in ’08. Just be happy NY didnt re-sign Pavano.

    • Soam says:

      I’d say the Yanks have given Burnett a long enough opportunity to turn things around in the rotation. They’ve got 2 years of one of the worst starters in baseball hands down. I think we all like Burnett on a personal level, and we’ve seen him win big games for us at his best at times which makes us root for him to turn it around, but you have to go with your brain over your heart on this one

      • Dan says:

        I actually don’t have much attachment to AJ. Seems like a cool guy but if C$ can turn him into some sort of profit, I’ll pack his bags myself.

        He’ll never live up to his contract, but I just think we’ve seen AJs growing pains and he’ll be usable for the next 2 years. I think he has the ability to be a REALLY overpaid version of 2011 Freddie, which I’ll gladly take at this point.

        Also, the clearly Yankees tend to reward mediocre pitchers for their uncharacteristicly good contract year (AJ, Wright, Pavano, etc.). It seems like we have a really good crop of young, cost controlled pitchers with their best years ahead of them which is hopefully the way we continue. One of them flames out, you’re only on the hook for a few Mil.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          It seems a little revisionist to lump AJ in with guys like Jaret Wright, who played one decent season into a big contract. AJ was a quality starter for a long time, who only had trouble with injuries. It was the injury angle that concerned everyone at the time, not that he wasn’t a good pitcher. Ironically, the Yankees were absolutely right about his health….the rest, no so much…

  9. ryan says:

    only eating 8 mill seems like a pipe dream….maybe if they eat 13 mill that would knock his annual salary down to 10 mill..for the sole purpose of triming payroll and asking nothing in return I bet someone would take a chance in a pitcher friendly stadium…maybe the tigers

  10. Johnny O says:

    Question for Joe (or anyone else who knows) – the portion of AJ’s salary that the Yanks eat, let’s call is $10M per season, does NOT count towards the 2012 and 2013 payroll, correct? SO they pay a ton of money to get him out, but they don’t have to kick up 40% to MLB. So while they may eat $10M per year, they also save $6.6M (40% of $16.5M salary). Even if they have to count the $10M per year they are eating, that’s still some savings in luxury tax.

    So even eating $10M per year, it’s only really $3.4M net, right?

    If I’m right, this factor seems to make it a lot more likely that the Yanks would dump him and kick up extra $ to do so.

    • Soam says:

      I am pretty sure it does count towards the payroll for luxury tax purposes.

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

        I believe you are correct. The better analysis then is to amplify the savings in terms of the luxury tax. So if they save $10mm/year say, it’s actually more like $14mm.

  11. 28 this year says:

    What abou his no-trade clause? What will it take to get him to waive that?

  12. Subdivisions says:

    You Keep AJ Burnett. Arms are not easy to come by, and yes he doesn’t throw 97 anymore, but I personally think if everyone got off his back he would find his comfort zone and become a quality starter. Why take a chance on someone else’s garbage, when AJ can get you 10-15 wins, 150+ innings a year..

    Try putting some confidence in the guy since you all are so quick to throw someone off the bus.. I know its been 2 bad years, but in those two years i havent seen ANYONE say “Maybe we should get behind him for support”, instead of getting behind him to puish him on the tracks.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      All of our hopes and prayers won’t do a damn thing.

    • ChooChoo says:

      No one has gotten behind him for support? Do you suffer from amnesia a little? Not remembering Girardi’s testy confrontations with the media last summer about Burnett? Or Cashman fully in Burnett’s corner, saying that his actual performances were being distorted by the media?

    • Soam says:


      The organization has been nothing but supportive of Burnett. Maybe RAB commenters haven’t, but do you really think that is what’s wrong with AJ? He’s tossing and turning in bed at night over blogs?

  13. Soam says:

    I think if they are unable to trade Burnett, then the next best thing to do is going to be to stick him in the bullpen. He has the potential to be a dominant reliever and I think if we can showcase that for half a season, more teams would be interested in him, or we could keep him if bullpen depth is a problem (with mo, robertson, soriano, joba i doubt it but things like this change in a flash)

  14. Favrest says:

    Guys, the Yankees are not moving AJ to save money. They are moving him to get him off the team. Hopefully, there is a GM out there dumb enough to take him.

  15. JobaWockeeZ says:

    What’s the asking price for Cash since he’s smoking the objective pipe?

  16. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    What is the significance of the asterisk in the second sentence? I feel like a footnote was suppose to be there.

  17. Monteroisdinero says:

    AJ is going nowhere. Have him work on and throw his changeup more and more. He needs to rely less on his 55 foot curveball. His curve is great 1 out of 3 starts. With AJ it will always be a discussion of mechanics vs mentality. His arm is strong and healthy and his stuff is high quality. The next two years will be more of the same. He can give Montero a good workout behind the plate if we want to see it. I personally wouldn’t.

  18. infernoscurse says:

    money + aj burnett for the posting fee of Yu Darvish

    AJ can be a superstar in Japan


  19. Favrest says:

    Burnett to Seattle for Greg Halman.

  20. Jerry says:

    It’s a shame. $16 million doesn’t get you what it used to.

  21. Brandon says:

    Yankees: Anyone want Burnett?


    Yankees: Alright, we’ll just go fuck ourselves then, apparently.

    • Gonzo says:

      Too bad they couldn’t hire Billy Mays to pitch AJ Burnett. He would have added Ramiro Pena to the deal and everyone would have been like, “Whaaa? I gotta jump on this deal.”

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      If they eat salary and don’t expect much, I actually don’t think it’s that dire.

  22. infernoscurse says:

    AJ + Breland Brown to the Australian Baseball league for xavier paul

  23. Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

    Normally, I’d say “but he’s healthy and eating innings,” but, even if he were to bomb, you could throw a DJ Mitchell to the wolves every five days and not come out that much worse than having the AJ of the last two seasons (thank you for the playoff start) out there.

    If you can move him, take what you can. If he suddenly figures it out somewhere else, good for him. I like AJ. I just don’t like the past two seasons of his work on this team, nor am I hopeful at all as to what’s to come.

  24. Jake says:

    So how about Montero and Burnett + $8m/2yrs for Gio Gonzalez and a minor league prospect?

  25. Real deal fan says:

    How about we trade Montero for a front line pitcher. And sign Prince to be the DH. Hell hit 45-50 in the stadium.
    1-Jeter SS
    2-Graderson CF
    3-Cano 2B
    4-Fielder DH
    5-Tex 1B
    6-A-Rod 3B
    7-Swish RF
    8-Martin C
    9-Gardner LF

    Best line up in the history of the game. Everyone forgets the hitting was the downfall. Not the pitching!!! I love Montero. But you know what your getting with Prince.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      But you know what your getting with Prince.

      Just like Tex three years ago!

    • infernoscurse says:

      who is this frontline pitcher that someone would trade for Montero? is Garza worth Montero? cause I dont see any front line ace type pitcher on the market

    • IBelieveInAJ says:

      haha I absolutely love this option but nobody believes it will ever come close to even being considered.

    • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

      I can think of a better lineup than this that did not win it all for the Yankees. The 2006 lineup when Matsui and Sheffield returned to the lineup late in the season. Also the 1961 lineup was better than this and a few others the Yankees have had, but in those cases the catcher could hit

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      LoHud is ——> that way, although sometimes I think it’s moved here.

      I agree that lineup would do very well against the ’27 Yankees on an old Commodore 64 version of Pure-Stat Baseball. God, I loved that game. Even created a team once which had Bert Campaneris playing all nine positions.

      For real life, though, keep Montero and let someone else pay through a nose for a player the Yankees do not need.

  26. CS Yankee says:

    What are the differences in Zito & AJ…years/$ and WAR?

    Maybe a change of the extremely highly paid 5th/6th starters would be good for both clubs.

  27. RPB says:

    AJ does have some value. He has pitched 200 innings for the past 3 years.

    How does sending AJ + money to another team affect
    the luxury tax. Are they still responsible for the tax hit of the money that they are paying? If not, then they Yankees would have lots of good reasons $$$ to trade him rather than dump him.

  28. CJ says:

    Based on harper’s article and Cashman’s outspoken desperation for a starting pitcher, I think Jesus montero and betances go to Oakland for Gio Gonzalez. Report out of Detroit says tigers can’t match yanks offer for Gio and phillies offering Dom brown. Peter Gammons report on Boston deal for Bailey is good too.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      You may be valuing Gio higher than the Yankees actually are.

      You say he’s desparate for starting pitching. What I’m reading is, “I’d love to add a pitcher, but I don’t see where the stars line up right now.” That’s not desparation.

      My gut is telling me Darvish and/or patchwork more and more for 2012. Fine with me. A year of Kuroda in that patchwork just makes sense to me right now, but what do I know. I’m just a guy with a screenname that’s barely relevant anymore.

      • CJ says:

        I’m not saying I would trade montero for Gio, I am making the call that Cashman will offer montero for Gio. If it turns out that Cashman realistically must include montero to beat other offers I say he will. Seems like he was hoping romine betances and mason Williams would get it done.

  29. IBelieveInAJ says:

    Bottom line, I don’t like the idea of just giving away Burnett. Yeah yeah everyone jump down my throat cause I still believe in this dude but his stuff is just too nasty to let go of for next to nothing.

    Question: would you really free up capspace by trade AJ just to get a guy like Matt Garza or Edwin Jackson in return? I know I wouldn’t. Let’s see where he is mid season and if 2012 is another disaster then they’ll pay another team to just take him for 2013. And the 2012 winter offseason pitching class is looking really good right now so let’s just hold off for that instead of putting a band-aid on the pitching which will just ultimately end in another long term overpaid disaster contract.


    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      If someone took him with the Yankees kicking in “only” $8Mil, then I’d say take that deal. Otherwise, you have a very good point. Wait it out, see if the changes he made at the end of last season can carry over into the ’12 season, and make an adjustment as the trade deadline approaches or during the next offseason if necessary.

  30. Grover says:

    I still like the Burnett for Zambrano straight up idea but would try to up the ante for Marshall’s inclusion.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      No way, at least A.J. isn’t insane.

      • Grover says:

        When Zambrano was mentioned as a possibility in Miami he supposedly offered to defer a portion of his one year deal for $19M. His option is tied to Cy Young votes which won’t be a problem. If he performs someone will take him off their hands. If not, cut him and pay him over the years while still saving huge money this year and next. If the Cubs miss out on any of the top closers left they also may be prime for taking Soriano off the Yank’s hands; perhaps combined with a couple of middle of the road prospects perhaps Theo would cough up Marshall?

  31. Matt says:

    Trading Burnett when his value is perceived as being at its lowest would be foolish, especially since they would be eating his money and getting almost nothing in return.

    Also, there were some encouraging signs in his performance last year that suggest he may not be such a bad option going forward.

    His peripherals were solid:

    -49.2 GB% (highest since 2007)
    -10.0% swinging strikes (highest since 2008)
    -wCB/C was 0.83 last year, which was a significant rebound from 2010 in which it was worth negative runs.
    -HR/FB%- 17.0% in 2011 which is his highest since 2007, despite allowing substantially fewer fly balls than in any season as a Yankee (xFIP was 3.86, and the HR rate is a significant outlier for him in his career. even in 2010 it was only 11.6%)

    His ERA was awful last year, and I’m not denying that. But if you dig a little deeper, you realize that besides his awful month of August, his ERA for the rest of the season was 4.24. In fact, his ERA was 4.30 or below in 4 of the 6 months of the season. These are his numbers besides August:

    167.2 IP 146 H 26 HR 74 BB 156 K 4.24 ERA 1.31 WHIP

    Which may not be #2 starter type numbers, but are still pretty solid for a guy who is making every one of his starts. They are very comparable to Hughes in 2010 (4.19 ERA, 1.25 WHIP), except that Hughes’ peripherals weren’t as solid.

    He looked like a completely different pitcher down the stretch last year when he changed his delivery. With the new motion, his mechanics were more consistent and he was locating his pitches better. His K’s shot back up in September, and he delivered some outstanding starts down the stretch. If he can maintain these changes, perhaps it will help with his consistency issues somewhat.

    • Matt says:

      The HR/FB rate is especially interesting, because it seems to suggest that he was just making awful mistake pitches the few times that he did get the ball up.

      Maybe his new delivery can help him cut down on that, and if it does then his peripherals suggest that his ERA could bounce back big time.

    • Need Pitching says:

      the one caveat I would add is that his fastball has been in a four-year tailspin, both in average velocity (95.1,94.3,94.2,93.2,92.7) and in pitch value (wFB/C 0.53,-0.28,-0.62,-0.76,-1.89)
      While the way he ended the season is some reason for slight optimism, the downtrend in his fastball is concerning and unlikely to be turned around.

      • Matt says:

        Yes, but he still has enough stuff to get by. He’s changing his pitch selection as it goes down as well:

        4-seam: 2009- 64.1%, 2010- 47.3%, 2011- 39.9%
        2-seam: 2009- 2.4%, 2010- 22.5%, 2011- 10.6%
        Changeup: 2009- 2.2%, 2010- 2.6%, 2011- 9.1%

        He also seems to be throwing something that PitchFX is classifying as a cutter, at 6.9% of the time in 2011.

        • Need Pitching says:

          “Yes, but he still has enough stuff to get by”

          theoretically yes, but he has yet to show he can be effective with the reduced velo over a full season. He has basically become a one effective pitch starter (curveball) which would somewhat explain his difficulties in later innings

  32. Evan says:

    Isn’t the issue with AJ more inconsistency than anything else. Last year in 19 or his 33 game he gave up 3 ER or less and in 8 other games he gave up 4. So in 27 of his 33 games you would have to say he gave the team a chance to win the game. He got destroyed in the other games but seems like this idea that he is not bringing any value is a little over hyped.

  33. chris says:

    This doesn’t necessarily purtain to Burnett but it does purtain to front of the line starting pitching. I’ve been constantly hearing about guys like the John Danks’, the Gio Gonzalazez’, the Jurjens’ and although I don’t mind those types of pitchers because I like their stuff but what about trading and using our chips to get a guy like Matt Cain, Clayton Kershaw. Obviously their probaby not available but why waste most of the chips on a 3 when we can go the extra mile and get that 1A type ace? Thoughts.

  34. yankeefan says:

    Burnett n cash n cervelli to the mets for ronny paulino there not planning to bring him back n I want him cuz he’s a friend of mines lol

  35. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    In defense of AJ or not, it was the Yankees who gave out the contract after one good performance year from him. I hope this serves as a measure for future contracts.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      I would have signed him too. “Good AJ” was that damn good. “Bad AJ” was never expected to be that damn bad.

      I loved AJ since the Marlins first brought him up. I thought he was going to be absolutely dominant and, at times, he has been. It is long past the point, though, of him becoming that guy.

      I also would not give back 2009 in order to not have this problem right now.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      This just isnt true. AJ Burnett, prior to coming to NY, had thrown 1376 innings of 111 ERA+, 8.4 k/9, 1.28 WHIP, etc. AJ Burnett, when healthy, had always been a very good starting pitcher.

      • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

        Would the Yankees have given him 82M for 5 yrs. if he had been 12-14 in 08? I think not. I know he always had great promise because during the 03 WS there were rumors that the Marlin’s best pitcher was injured. The problem is/was that he never performed to the level of his potential.

  36. pay says:

    I would have eaten some salary and flipped him for Pagan . He can pitch teh eighth for the Metsies.

  37. Monteroisdinero says:

    What makes AJ inconsistent? His mechanics? His mind?

    How do we limit the negative and improve him? Is his implosion random? First/second/third time through the order issues? Pitch selection?


    • JohnnyC says:

      Joe owes you a dollar.

    • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

      If you were watching Carpenter in NLCS you should have noted the no windup mode of delivery. This is used by Becket and was used by Don Larsen and Bob Turley in the 50s. This was invented for taller pitchers so that they could keep their eye on the target and limit their other contortions on the mound. I would be very pleased if someone would ask Prof. Rothschild if he can try that on him in Spring training.

  38. Josh says:

    Mike, who in the world would take on Burnett’s contract? Cincinnati is the only one I can think of, seeing as they are a team that’s notably known to be looking for pitching, and the only ones I think that are capable of taking on that much salary. Burnett + $ for LHP reliever Billy Bray and a prospect or two?

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