The Yankees also made a deal this weekend, dumping Jaret Wright on his old mentor, Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone, in exchange for Chris Britton. Wright was a complete disappointment in New York, up to and including his performance in Detroit's Game 4 clincher in their ALDS this year. If Wright was going to any team other than Mazzone's, I'd write this off as a foolish pickup, but Wright did have the one truly effective and healthy season of his career in the one season he spent with Atlanta in 2004.
To read more of Keith Law's analysis of the Wright trade, click here.
Wright was traded to the Orioles on Sunday for right-handed
reliever Chris Britton. As part of the deal, the Yankees will pay
$4 million of Wright's $7 million salary next year.
New York had until Sunday to opt out of Wright's contract, a
move that also would have cost the Yankees a $4 million buyout.
Wright, a right-hander who turns 31 on Dec. 29, will be reunited
with pitching coach Leo Mazzone. When the pair were with the
Atlanta Braves in 2004, Wright went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA.
"I think the primary factor is his relationship with Leo back
in his Atlanta days," Orioles vice president Jim Duquette said.
"He costs us $3 million. When you look at the free-agent market
and consider what it would cost for a guy like this, it's a great
move for us."
After agreeing to a $21 million, three-year contract, Wright had
a pair of disappointing seasons with the Yankees. He injured a
shoulder early in the 2005 season and was 5-5 with a 6.08 ERA in 13
starts, then went 11-7 with a 4.49 ERA this year, not pitching more
than 6 1/3 innings in any of his 27 starts.
"Our feeling is the injuries are behind him," Duquette said.
New York heads into the free-agent signing season in need of
starting pitching. Chien-Ming Wang is the only given, although it
appears likely Mike Mussina will stay with New York. The Yankees
have until Wednesday to decide on his $17 million option, which
carries a $1.5 million buyout, but the sides have been working on a
two-year contract in the $20 million to $25 million range.
Britton, who turns 24 on Dec. 16, was taken by Baltimore in the
eighth round of the 2001 amateur draft. He made his major league
debut last season, going 0-1 with one save and a 3.35 ERA in 52
relief appearances with the Orioles while holding batters to a .228
average. He also was 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA and two saves in 13 games
for Bowie of the Double-A Eastern League.
"This acquisition provides additional flexibility to our
pitching staff as we continue the transition toward the 2007
season," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Wright bolsters an Orioles rotation that struggled for much of
last season. Opening-day starter Rodrigo Lopez went 9-18,
Bruce Chen was winless and by September the rotation included rookies
Adam Loewen and Hayden Penn.
"Philosophically, any time you can trade a reliever for a
starter, you've got to do it," Duquette said. "We have some
depth. He definitely upgrades the rotation. How much so, we won't
find out until we're in the season."