With talks going through the weekend, the Yankees are engaged with four teams on a trade for A.J. Burnett, not just the Pittsburgh Pirates, a baseball official with knowledge of the discussions said Sunday morning. With the serious trade talks going on the Yankees have paused their pursuit of a designated hitter in the free agent market.
They are doing so, the official said, because they want to see if they receive someone who could DH in a possible deal for Burnett. If the Yankees don’t receive a DH-type in a deal for Burnett or don’t trade Burnett at all, then they are likely to sign one of either Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui or another free agent DH still on the market.
The Yankees aren’t sure yet if they will trade Burnett as a source put it at “50-50” at this point. However, if they do, it figures to happen soon so they can then move on to add a DH to their roster. The Yankees are talking with four teams, but in reality it is three. Burnett has a no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to block 10 teams. One of the clubs the Yankees have had legitimate talks with is on the list and, a person familiar with Burnett’s thinking, said that he won’t give in on that team. Besides Pittsburgh, it is unknown who the other three clubs the Yankees are talking to about Burnett.
Colleague Wallace Matthews reported on Saturday that the trade with the Pirates "has legs," according to a source. Pittsburgh is still considered the favorite, but the exact deal has not been agreed upon to yet.
The Yankees are willing to deal Burnett because they don’t have a place in their rotation for him. They acquired Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, leaving Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett to fight it out for the fifth spot. Even with top prospect Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances needing more seasoning in the minors , the Yankees think they have organization depth with Adam Warren, David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell. All three could be ready if the Yankees need to call up a spot starter due to injury. The major sticking point in any Burnett talks is how much money the Yankees will be willing to eat. Burnett is owed $33 million over the next two seasons. The Yankees will likely have to pay at least $20-plus million of that for Burnett to pitch for another team. As a Yankee, Burnett is 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA.