The Pittsburgh Pirates may be interested in trading for New York Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to shore up their rotation, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Burnett hasn't been very productive for the Yankees the last two seasons, posting a 5.26 ERA in 2010 and a 5.15 ERA in 2011 much to the chagrin of fans. (Reuters/Ray Stubblebine)
If the Pirates were to acquire Burnett, he would join 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 Los Angeles Angels and Prince Fielder going from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Detroit Tigers.
For the Yankees, the New York Post reports that getting rid of the 35-year-old Burnett would clear some money not only to re-sign valuable hitters, including free agent infielder Eric Chavez, but also to add a left-handed designated hitter, such as Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Burnett has two years and $33 million left on his contract, and even though the Yankees may end up paying a significant portion of that salary, what's left may still be enough to get who they want.
Rosenthal also reports that the Pirates are not one of 10 teams on the no-trade list included in Burnett's contract. As a result, the Yankees would be free to send him to the Pirates without restriction.
Furthermore, while the Yankees have spent the entire offseason thus far trying to move Burnett, and might be motivated to complete a deal as spring training nears, Burnett wants to stay with the team and be their fifth starter.
Burnett, who led the American League with 231 strikeouts in 2008 when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays, has been considered by many Yankees fans to be a disappointment since then, especially last season, when he posted an 11-11 record with a 5.15 ERA in his third year playing for New York.
The Yankees have CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes in their starting rotation arsenal in addition to Burnett, which, looking at statistics, age and salary, might leave Burnett the odd man out.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have recently been looking to add another starter, making offers to free agent pitchers Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson this winter, but both of them rejected the offers presented to them.