According to MLBTR, New York Yankees starting pitcher AJ Burnett does not have the Pirates on list of 10 teams that he will not accept a trade to and the Pirates are talking with the Yankees about him.
Since signing with the Yankees in 2009, Burnett has started 98 games, throwing 584 innings with a record of 34-35. Obviously his nearly .500 record has been assisted by the Yankees’ offense, especially considering his 4.79 ERA in a 3-year time frame. Burnett is making $16.5 million through the next two seasons, which is a hefty price for a pitcher whose FIP is 3.78 over his career. The last two seasons for the Yankees have been disastrous, with ERAs of 5.26 and 5.15 in 2010 and ’11, respectively.
Burnett has struggled since moving to the American League in 2006. Prior to signing with the Blue Jays in the AL East, Burnett had an ERA of 3.73 with the Florida Marlins. Since moving to the American League East, Burnett has an ERA of 4.36, more than a .60 point difference, just by moving to a different league. The Pirates may be interested in him because of the numbers he put up in the National League. According to MLBTR, “The Pirates can’t seem to convince free agent starters to take their money, and Burnett could reject them as well if they are one of ten teams covered in his limited no-trade clause. Still, they’d represent a fresh start back in the easier league, and Burnett could be a big fish in a small pond.” But the question is, what would the Pirates possibly give to the Yankees in exchange for Burnett? I would imagine that the asking price wouldn’t be too high, considering his behemoth of a salary and the possibility that he will continue to have an ERA north of five. In fact, the Yankees may eat some salary to get rid of Burnett.
Would Burnett be a good fit on the Pirates? Well, he is older, has playoff experience, and has a significantly lower ERA in the National League than he does in the American League. The Pirates won’t be a good fit for any of the remaining free agent pitchers who are worth offering more than $480k to, and I would imagine that he and his projected WAR of 1.3 would both be better than the current options for the Pirates as well as the potential free agent options. However, there is always the money. With a guaranteed salary of $32,000,000 over the next two years, would the ownership of the Buccos take him if all they had to give was a career MiLBer? Most likely not.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Pirates will not get Burnett despite talking to the Yanks about trading for him, so all of this talking is going to be for naught when the Yankees either keep him or trade him to the Cardinals for two lambs and a goat