Burnett and the Mystery Team


(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The A.J. Burnett trade saga continues to move along uneventfully, as the Pirates and Yankees are reportedly still haggling over just how much each side will contribute towards the $33M left on the right-hander’s contract. It seems inevitable that A.J. will be traded before pitchers and catchers report on Sunday, it’s only a question of how much will the team save and what nondescript minor leaguer(s) will they get in return.

Something about all this trade talk just doesn’t feel right, however. The Yankees keep all their potential moves very, very close to the chest, but these talks have been about as public as possible. We’ve been getting hourly “updates” for a week now, which just isn’t typical of the current Brian Cashman regime. Perhaps it’s the Pittsburgh side with all the leaks, it does take two to tango, but again Yankees trade talks never seem to be this public. It’s very out of the ordinary.

Buster Olney reported this morning that a Mystery Team submitted a trade proposal to the Yankees yesterday, though the Buccos are apparently still in the lead. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I get the sense that the Pirates are just being used as leverage. Usually the Mystery Team is a manufactured rumor to create leverage, but we’ve seen both Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols sign with surprise clubs this offseason after Cliff Lee did it last winter. The Mystery Team has a pretty strong roster these days.

We know the Angels and Indians have interest in Burnett in addition to the Pirates, but we did originally hear that four teams were in the running. We still don’t know who that fourth team is — Royals? Orioles? White Sox? your guess is as good as mine — but they do seem to be lurking. Maybe I’ve just got a case of hot stove dementia and am trying to reach for something that’s not there, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Burnett winds up with a team not previously reported and that none of us expect.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Plank says:

    Mystery Team: Yomiuri Giants

  2. Kosmo says:

    My guess the mystery team is either KC or Miami. Hopefully by Saturday all the “suspense“ will be over.

  3. Chuck M says:

    It wouldn’t shock me if the leak came from Pittsburgh. The Pirates want to do anything to get on the news for something positive – and taking salary from the evil empire definitely qualifies.

  4. Garcia says:

    At this point, is it safe to assume that we will not be getting a DH-type bat for AJ? Or any ML-ready players for that matter? The more I read about these trade talks, I can’t help but have this feeling that AJ will be had for a bucket of balls and no one will care because his contract will go away (for the most part) and he’ll be sent to the glue factory after this season anyway.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      he’ll be sent to the glue factory after this season anyway.

      I agree with most of your post, but if he’s sent to a team with a “pitcher-friendly” park, he’ll probably be worth $6-7 Mil/season and will finish out his contract. He may even bounce back and be worth significantly more than that (at least for one season).

    • The Guns of Navarone says:

      That was my first reaction. But recent rumors involved Hafner and Abreu. That’s more than a bucket of balls. It makes me thing Cash is actually trying to get something useful back instead of just unloading as much salary as possible.

    • Garcia says:

      I definitely agree about his potential move to a pitcher-friendly park preserving his value. As we all know, AJ is generally fine until he gives up a home run or walks a leadoff batter. Cut down on the frequency of HRs, and we probably won’t see the wheels come off as often.

      Hafner or Abreu, of course, would be way more than a bucket of balls. I guess I just have a the same funny feeling about the trade talks that others have expressed. Something just feels…off. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m conditioning myself for the receipt of some random 26 year old left handed hitting former prospect with “power potential and a good eye” who ends up being a AAAA guy, similar to a Brandon Allen or Kila Ka’aihue from the A’s . If we get better than that, then I can act pleasantly surprised.

  5. CJ says:

    How could the leaks come from the Pitt side when the angels and Indians deals were also leaked? I’m guessing a one on one deal between Seattle/NY could stay quiet because they were not shopping Pineda or montero around. In a case where a player is being shopped around, sources and insiders can get some reports. If AJ goes in an unforeseen deal to a mystery team (not Piit, Cleveland or angels) it would be a clever cash ninja move

  6. Johnny says:

    I swear to Christ it’s the Phillies. That’s the kind of crazy s— Ruben Amaro Jr would pull. They’re like the North Korea of baseball, amassing this massive (yet totally) ineffective military force.

  7. CJ says:

    Miami got clobbered in Anibal Sanchez arbitration $8 m when they offered less than 3. I wonder if that would make him available, not necessarily for AJ but maybe Garcia and Betances? One year with Yankees to find out if he’s worth considering as a free agent.

  8. Jesse says:

    Don’t the Yankees like to announce these deals Friday evening? Like around 5 or 7 PM?

  9. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    The mystery team is the Braves. The minor leaguer is Arodys Vizciano.

    A boy can dream, can’t he?

  10. voIII says:

    Maybe Philly so he can me reunited with his mentor Haladay? Phillies do like stockpile starters…

  11. Dan says:

    KC could definitely be the mystery team. I have a strong feeling they’re getting close to competing with their killer line-up (Hoz, Tacos, Gordon, Cain, Escobar) with more on the way (Myers, Starling, etc). After trading the Melkman for JSanchez, I’m going out on a limb to say AJ, Hughes, & Phelps for Butler and C+ prospect. At this point Hughes/Joba are the same toss-up bullpen fodder so either is expendable.

    Cash wanted to use his surplus to add a bat and Butler for Hughes has been rumbling for a few months now. Butler just got expensive ($8M up from $3M) and Hughes will make less than 1/2 of that. Has a similar feel to the Montero trade of strength for strength (also mostly DUE to the Montero trade…)

    Does this make sense or am I totally wrong?

    • CJ says:

      I hope you’re right.

    • Garcia says:

      Butler can hit lefties and righties as a DH, which is obviously a plus, but I think his lack of flexibility would handcuff the Yanks more than Cash would like. He can barely play 1B, so he’ll just be doing what Montero was projected to do this year – in there every day at DH and occasionally spelling Tex at 1B. Additionally, I think giving up AJ, Hughes, and Phelps is too much. Hughes may end up being bullpen fodder, but as of right now he still has starter potential, which I would say is all but gone for Joba. Phelps is important AAA insurance for Freddie (assuming, as you suggest, that AJ and Hughes could both be dealt) along with Warren.

      It just seems like a lot to give up for a guy who, while a good player, doesn’t really fill a hole for us.

      • Dan says:

        You make a good point. I was thinking Phelps to offset the contract a bit, but that would take us from 7 starts and 3 AAA down to 5 and 1 which wouldn’t happen.

        Taking from what Kosmo said, tho, if Clint Robinson is knocking on the DH door, Butler might be a little easier to wiggle free especially with the contract.

        With that said, AJ will prob go to Pitt for those 2 Indian guys they signed a few years ago (joking, I’m pretty they abandoned that failed experiment quickly), but I think it could work with the right pieces

    • Kosmo says:

      I would just deal AJ and 20 million for Clint Robinson and a C pitching prospect and call it a day.

  12. Dean says:

    Aj vetoed a trade to LAA yesterday . The deal was going to be aj for bobby abreu but aj wouldnt have it. It sure would have been nice to see bobby back in pinstripes!

  13. Steve says:

    Three-teamer to the Red Sox?

  14. Gerald Williams says:


  15. Stanz421 says:

    The mystery team is the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees. You heard it here first.

    • Dan says:

      That’s funny. Trust me tho, if C$ could pull that one off and not have the contract count against the cap, he would drive AJ to each respective park Scranton calls “home” this year himself.

  16. Ed in SF says:

    Bold prediction: Mystery team is Orioles. Player under discussion is Nick Markakis. Orioles want out of his lt commitment. Issue is whether Yankees will add a prospect from low minors, Yanks reluctant to take full brunt of Markakis contract beyond 2013.


    • Bill Style says:

      Just got my hopes up in an irresponsible way, always been a Markakis fan. Great arm in right, good for 180 hits/year, around .800 ops, and can steal a base or two. He took over my #21 love affair after O’Neill retired.

      I can’t expect it to happen, but it’d sure be nice to have Markakis in right and have Swisher as the DH.

    • CJ says:

      That markakis contract is dangerous. Good player but he’s not going to play up to that contract.

      • Bill Style says:

        I think you’re right CJ. I had replied to this on how I felt about Markakis as a player, didn’t even factor in his contract. Seems like he got rewarded for his 07 and 08 seasons. Also, just read that he had surgery to repair a torn muscle in his abdomen this offseason.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Please don’t wish for an AL East team. You won’t want to be around for the Game Thread when AJ turns in that 7 IP, 0 ER, 10 K performance against the Yankees in July.

      • RetroRob says:

        I remember how well AJ would pitch against the Yankees when he was on the Jays. That would be painful to watch again, although he’s not the same pitcher he was back then.

  17. DM says:

    Just a hunch but I think it’s always been the Pirates, and only the Pirates. Cashman has a strong relationship with Huntington. I’d be surprised if AJ didn’t land in Pittsburgh — unless there’s some 3-way thing going on.

  18. wish AJ’s wife wasn’t afraid of flying…the Abreu trade that AJ turned down would have been nice.

  19. MLB-Insider says:

    I have information that the suspected mystery team is the toronto bluejays

  20. neo says:

    “…just isn’t typical of the current Brian Cashman regime.” Stealth may be Cashman’s preferred mode, but perhaps in this case he perceives that being public is better strategy to play teams off each other and increase the return value. If the Pirates thought no one else wanted AJ, they could pay lower.

    Besides, Ninja works only because it is unexpected. I think Cashman is smart enough to use different tactics for different situations because otherwise predictability can be used against him.

  21. Brewers says:

    hahaha you fools, I’m the mystery team and im only willing to part with matt gamel

  22. OldYanksFan says:

    h/t: IIATMS
    NYY-PGH close to finalizing deal w/ Burnett. should get done in next 24 hours according to source

  23. Preston says:

    The Yankees keep things close to the vest because it is in their best interests. When they are making a deal you don’t want others to know that you are shopping your player (it devalues them) or what you’re offering for another player (it allows other teams to outbid you). In the case of AJ everyone knows we want to get rid of him. Before any of these trade rumors started it was widely believed that he was impossible to trade or that we would have to take back an even worse contract. So by letting people know that anyone is interested is actually driving up AJ’s value. I think from the start the Pirates have always been the only seriously interested team. But if the Indians make a due diligence call, let Heyman know, let Huntington sweat a little. The Angel’s made a call, put it on the net. Cashman has brilliantly fabricated an interest in an untradable commodity. He is going to squeeze every dollar he can get out of the Pirates and maybe leverage them into giving up a prospect who may end up being useful in the bullpen or the bench at some point.

  24. JFH says:

    Which teams make the most geographic sense for his wife and have a need? Is Arkansas still his home?

  25. Robinson Tilapia says:

    The mystery team was the New York Yankees all along, and the whole angle was booked by Vince McMahon.

    In all seriousness, I don’t think much other than Burnett and cash to Pittsburgh for Eric Hacker, Eric Hackier, and Eric Hackiest is happening.

  26. Tut says:

    Francessa stating that the Royals are the mystery team.

  27. TrollHunter says:

    Imagine what K-Long could do with Adam Dunn????!!!!!!!!!

  28. Tom Zig says:

    AJ Burnett for Sean Burnett, Erin Burnett and a case of Burnett’s.


  29. Rookie says:

    The reason for this deal not fitting the Cashman style seems very simple to me. Basically, if you’re trying to acquire a player, you want to strike and make the deal with a minimum of opportunity for being outbid by others. If you’re trying to offload a player, it’s the exact reverse. You usually want it to be as public as possible so that it resembles an auction with everyone who might be interested knowing about it, being in on the bidding, and being motivated by competition from other bidders.

    What am I missing?

    • Steve (different one) says:

      I think you have the gist of it. It doesn’t “fit” the Yankees style because the Yankees are usually the buyer and rarely the seller.

      • Havok9120 says:

        I concur. I think our misgivings about it “not fitting” are also ampliphied a thousand fold by the fact that this is the only real Yankee-centric proceedings going on at the moment. We’re all dialed in on it 110% because its the only show in town.

  30. kev says:

    Burnett for Dunn swap….. Just a strange gut feeling

  31. cody says:

    The Mystery team is none other than the NY Mets with the Yanks taking Santana in exchange. u heard it hear first

  32. Will says:

    Prediction: Burnett goes to the Pirates, and is then traded to the Red Sox in July, whence he helps them win the WC. Then, he turns in 2performances in the ALCS against the Yankees similar to his start in last year’s ALDS. Yankees lose ALCS to Boston while paying most of AJ’s salary.

    • Rookie says:

      This scenario wouldn’t be so shocking given apparent appetite of Red Sox in the last year or two for ex-Yankees and Burnett’s history of success (more often than not, I gather) in the post season.

      On the other hand, you’d have to think that it wouldn’t do wonders for the Pirates’ relationship with the Yankees and the Yankees’ eagerness to do future deals with the Red Sox.

      • Rookie says:

        Whoops! Needless to say, I meant that it wouldn’t do wonders for the Yankees’ eagerness to do future deals with the Pirates.

  33. Vic says:

    It feels to me like journalists just churning the story, which they do more and more these days. I lost a lot of respect for the way the Yankees are covered after the Cliff Lee fiasco. I don’t pay attention to a word these guys say anymore until there’s actual, hard, responsibly-reported news.

  34. YanksFan02 says:

    Trade AJ and a prospect to the angels and get one of there power hitters at least they’d cutt down on payroll and that money can go to the trade deadline

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