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Hot Stove: Pirates Set To Acquire A.J. Burnett
Reggie Yinger | Friday February 17th, 2012
After plenty of speculation, Burnett lands with the Bucs. (Icon SMI)
After plenty of speculation, Burnett lands with the Bucs. (Icon SMI)
After plenty of speculation and links to several teams, starting pitcher A.J. Burnett was traded from the New York Yankees to the Pittsburgh Pirates for two minor league players. In addition to the minor leaguers, the Pirates will also receive cash from Yankees to help with the final two years of Burnett's five-year contract. The deal is pending a physical. Fox Sports writer Ken Rosenthal reported the deal earlier today.

New York is sending $20 million to Pittsburgh, making the Pirates responsible for paying A.J. approximately $13 million over the next two seasons.

The minor league players headed to the Yankees from the Pirates are low-level 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones and 25-year-old pitcher Diego MorenoMinor League Ball writer John Sickels provides an in-depth look at the pair of recently acquired prospects.

Burnett, 35, never appeared comfortable pitching in New York. In three seasons with the Bronx Bombers, the righthander posted a 34-35 record with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. While with the Yankees, Burnett appeared in seven post season games and had a 5.08 ERA. Although his numbers were awful during his tenure with the Yankees, Burnett always posted above-average strikeout numbers, striking out 7.9 hitters per nine innings between the 2008 and 2011 seasons. In addition to high strikeout rates, Burnett also ate a lot of innings for the Yankees, averaging about 195 innings pitched over three seasons.

With Burnett moving from the American League East to the National League Central, he'll leave one of the toughest divisions on pitchers and enter a pitcher friendly division. With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder taking new contracts in the American League, the NL Central is much less intimidating.

For the Yankees, the trade clears up revenue for the team to acquire a designated hitter and possible bench positions. The team has reportedly shown interested in veterans Raul Ibanez and Johnny Damon. The Yankees already have a stocked pitching rotation thanks to a busy off-season, so losing Burnett and his salary won't hurt the team's pitching needs.

For Pittsburgh, the move to acquire Burnett adds a veteran starting pitcher to a young pitching rotation. Burnett will join the current rotation consisting of James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, and Erik Bedard. For $13 million over the next two seasons, the Bucs get a pitcher who can log innings and provide some much needed strikeout numbers.

From a fantasy standpoint, owners won't bother drafting Burnett because of the poor performances while with the Yankees. If he is drafted, he'll be a late-round pick in deeper fantasy leagues by owners looking for strikeouts. At the most, one should think that Burnett could be picked off the waiver-wire as a spot-start based on the matchup.
Reggie YingerReggie is a writer and the co-founder of Baseball Press. He enjoys fantasy baseball and hates when players bunt in baseball.