A.J. Burnett will finally be headed to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates and the New York Yankees have agreed to a trade that would send the much-maligned 35-year-old right-hander to western Pennsylvania. All both sides need is approval from the commissioner Bud Selig's office, which should come Friday, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney.
In return for Burnett, the Yankees will receive right-handed reliever Diego Moreno, a 25-year-old from Venezuela, and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Moreno has split the past two seasons between the Class A and Double-A minor league teams, and Cayones spent 2011 in Class A.
A.J. Burnett's exit has seemed almost inevitable. Last season with the Yankees, he posted an 11-11 record with a 5.15 ERA and 173 strikeouts, much to the disappointment of Yankees fans. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)
Approval of the commissioner's office is needed because of the money involved, according to Olney. The Pirates will pay $13 million of the $31.1 million remaining on Burnett's contract, which leaves the Yankees room to aggressively pursue a veteran designated hitter once the deal is done.
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Sources also told Olney that the team would prefer to go after Raul Ibanez, rather than Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui, in order for him to against right-handers and partly because it believes the 39-year-old can play in the outfield on some days. Damon and Matsui are generally regarded as defensive liabilities.
The Yankees were prepared to trade Burnett to the Los Angeles Angels for former Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu, but Burnett invoked his no-trade clause to West Coast teams. Reports said that Burnett would veto a trade because his wife is from Maryland and has a fear of flying.
Burnett became expendable when the Yankees acquired starting pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda this off-season. Add C.C. Sabathia, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes to the mix, and the Yankees would have had seven starting pitchers for a five-man rotation.
Once the deal is approved, Burnett will be joining Pirates right-handers Charlie Morton and James McDonald and lefty Erik Bedard in what might be a competitive rotation in the NL Central, a division offensively weakened because of Albert Pujols going from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Angels and Prince Fielder going from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Detroit Tigers.
As a Yankee the past three seasons, Burnett is 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA. He is 121-111 with a 4.10 ERA in 13 seasons with the Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins.