The Yankees and Pirates have finally agreed to the terms of a deal that will send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh. According to reports, the Yankees will pay $20M of the $33M remaining on Burnett’s contract. In return, they will receive two prospects who have yet to be named. The prospects aren’t expected to be significant, but given baseball’s unpredictable nature one of them could turn out to be a nice surprise for the Yankees. The deal will be sent to Commissioner Bud Selig for approval later today and Burnett will take a physical on Sunday to make the whole thing official.
Personally, I’m pretty happy with the deal. Obviously it would have been ideal if the Yankees could have picked up less than $20M, but such is life. As it is, the deal saves the Yankees $13M over the next two years which will go a long way to getting the Yankees below the $189M payroll threshold by 2014 in order to take advantage of a preferable luxury tax rate. In addition, even with the loss of Burnett, the Yankees STILL have too many starting pitchers. Now the Yanks will only have to send one guy (either Freddy Garcia or Phil Hughes) to the bullpen instead of two.
As John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman pointed out last year, A.J. is like the evil twin that shows up out of nowhere in soap operas. He can be absolutely stellar and show flashes of brilliance in one inning only to give up 4 or 5 runs the next inning. Unfortunately for Burnett and the Yankees that one bad inning often proved to be significant in games Burnett started. The Pirates are getting both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in A.J. Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, the NL Central will be kinder to Burnett than the AL East has been.