The New York Yankees agreed on Friday to trade much-maligned pitcher A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers, a deal that clears the way for New York to add Raul Ibanez.
Pittsburgh will pay US$13 million of the US$33 million salary due to Burnett for this year and next year, a person familiar with the negotiations said on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.
New York will receive 25-year-old pitcher Diego Moreno and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones, both low-level prospects.
The agreement is subject to Burnett passing a physical, which is likely to take place today. Commissioner Bud Selig also must approve it because of the money involved.
“He’s looking forward to the opportunity to re-establish himself and mentor some of the young pitchers,” said Burnett’s agent, Darek Braunecker.
Braunecker said Burnett planned to be at the Pirates’ spring training complex in Bradenton, Florida, today.
New York intends to use the money saved to sign a designated hitter. The Yankees have already been negotiating a major league contract with Ibanez, who spent the last three seasons with Philadelphia.
He has been waiting for New York to agree to the deal, a person familiar with those negotiations said, also on condition of anonymity. The contract for the 39-year-old outfielder would have a base salary of about US$1 million.
New York also hopes to re-sign backup infielder Eric Chavez.
A 35-year-old right-hander, Burnett has gone 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA during three seasons with New York, including 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA last year. His average of 3.98 walks per nine innings was second-worst in the American League and fifth in the majors during that span among pitchers with 400 or more innings, according to STATS LLC.
Burnett became superfluous when the Yankees acquired Michael Pineda from Seattle in a trade and agreed to a one-year deal with free agent Hiroki Kuroda. They joined C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia.
In Pittsburgh, Burnett joins a rotation that includes newly signed Erik Bedard and returnees James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens. Charlie Morton is recovering from hip surgery in October. When Morton is available, Karstens could return to the bullpen and spot starts.
Burnett already has received more than US$2 million of his salary for this year because the Yankees pay him in twice-monthly installments over the entire year rather than from April to September, which is the major league standard. Of the remaining US$14.4 million Pittsburgh will pay US$5 million and the Yankees US$9.4 millions. Next year, the Pirates will pay US$8 million and the Yankees US$8.5 million.
Both prospects appear to have little chance of making it to the majors any time soon.
Moreno was 2-4 with a 3.21 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 33-2/3 innings last year during 34 relief appearances for Bradenton of the Florida State League and 0-0 with a 4.91 ERA in seven games with Double-A Altoona.