A.J. Burnett’s days as a Yankee appear to be numbered.
The Bombers have more than enough starting pitching in stock and have been dangling the enigmatic Burnett for some time. The Yanks have offered to pay much of the $33 million the hurler is owed for this season and next.
Four teams have reportedly been eying the bait, and the Pittsburgh Pirates might actually be on the hook.
ESPN New York reported on Feb. 12 that the two teams are working through conditions of a framework they have in place for such a deal.
Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reported that he was told by a source that the deal with the Bucs had “legs” and was “real.”
The right-handed Burnett, 35, has electric stuff, yet has a disappointing 34-35 record with a 4.79 ERA in three seasons in the Bronx. New York is anxious to make the trade before spring training in order to have one less distraction.
Things at Yankee camp figure to be juicy enough with GM Yankee Cashman’s pending divorce and fatal attraction relationship with his alleged “stalker” still in the news, and pitchers and catchers reporting in just six days.
The Yankee rotation already features returnees CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, plus just-acquired Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. That leaves one spot and, besides Burnett, the Yanks have Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia ready to battle for it. They also have some minor league prospects that could ultimately fill that void.
Matthew Boyles of radio station WRTA of Altoona, Pa., posted on Feb. 12 that Burnett would be a great fit for the Pirates. He called Burnett “still a considerable upgrade to anyone in the current Pirates rotation.”
So, if he lands in Pittsburgh, Burnett would go from waste to ace.
The Yankees had their sights set on Pirate right-fielder Garrett Jones, a lefty swinger, but Pittsburgh has taken him off the table, ESPN reported.
The Yanks are hoping to land a left-handed designated hitter, and have been considering free agents Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, both former Bombers, as well as former Phillies left-fielder Raul Ibanez.
But they wouldn’t need to go that route if they can fill that slot in a deal for Burnett.