A J Burnett Trade

February 19, 2012 by staff 

A J Burnett Trade, I’d rather comment about how a trade will hurt or benefit a team after it’s been completed. However, the stories of A.J. Burnett being dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates have dragged on for so long, I just can’t wait anymore. My first inclination is to say it’s a mistake for the Pirates, a team clearly building toward the future, to pick up an aging, volatile pitcher like Burnett. Yet, the move makes more and more sense as I look deeper.

Burnett has a temper. He is up and down in his success. He is expensive. Those are some of the common knocks. For the Pirates, though, Burnett’s temper may be manageable and even better with the new scenery of Pittsburgh. He can pitch without the pressures of New York media barring down on him. And he’s not going to be expensive for the Pirates if all the reports of the impending trade are correct.

Burnett has only had one year in his career in which he was below replacement level according to WAR. In 2010, he was worth -0.5 wins. However, last year he bounced back with a 1.1 WAR performance. Still well

what a $16.5 million pitcher should be worth, but encouraging nonetheless. The fact is, Burnett was overpaid a long time ago and that’s not his fault. He had a very nice year in 2002 and a solid year in 2005. Beyond that, Burnett has been about a 2 win per year pitcher. That’s worth about $10 million per season. The Blue Jays, then the Yankees both chose to overpay him, and the pressure has been intense ever since. It’s unfair pressure, but pressure that has certainly caused some outbursts.

Very much like Carlos Zambrano, Burnett has dealt with a temper stemming from both his passion for the game and the criticism being levied on him continuously. In July of 2010 Burnett was frustrated after a poor outing, slammed open a set of clubhouse doors, and cut both his hands in the fit. In August of 2011, an overblown controversy arose when Burnett, again upset with himself about a poor outing, was caught on camera shouting expletives. I won’t go on, but you get the point. The fact is, Burnett was put in an un-winnable position. He was expected to perform beyond his capabilities, beyond what he ever had shown he could do in the past. His first year in New York, Burnett made $16.5 million. He would have had to have performed at beyond a 3 win level to have been worth that contract. That’s the Yankees fault, not his. In Pittsburgh, the expectations will be understandably tempered. The pressure will be minimized. Perhaps, those changes will allow Burnett to reel in his frustrations and work towards finishing his career strong.

According to most sources, the Yankees will eat the majority of Burnett’s remaining contract. The Pirates, if the deal is approved, will only be responsible for about $13 million of Burnett’s remaining contract, which is through 2013. According to ESPN New York, Burnett receives a year-round contract so he has already been paid a portion of his 2012 salary, but if we average out the $13 million the Pirates will owe him, they are looking at $6.5 million per season. That type of deal makes this a no-brainer for Pittsburgh. The Pirates will send two lower-level prospects to the Yankees in Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones.

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