Pirates Show Shrewdness With Burnett Deal

The Yankees may have received two prospects in exchange for A.J. Burnett, but Friday's trade was a salary dump no matter how you look at it. With that said, the Yankees accomplished their goal, getting Burnett off their hands and receiving $13 million in salary relief in the process. But, although New York might be pleased, the winner here is Pittsburgh.

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates essentially signed A.J. Burnett for $13 million over two years. Of course it wasn't really a signing, but if you're evaluating the deal that's a good way of looking at it. The prospects they surrendered were of little importance in their farm system and New York is still eating $20 million of Burnett's contract.

As poorly as Burnett has performed over the last two years, $13 million for his services is a bargain. He should be able to provide the Pittsburgh staff with somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 innings and that doesn't come cheap in the free agent market.

Also worth noting is Burnett's 3.96 ERA against the National League in 2011. The sample size is relatively small, but it's difficult to argue that Burnett's numbers won't be helped by pitching in the NL. His stuff is still very good and in recent years he's fallen victim to the one big mistake in an outing. In the American League least, just one or two of those mistakes can turn a game into a blowout.

If you're even more of an optimist, the hope is that the Pirates' coaching staff can turn Burnett around completely. The first thing they will go to work on is his delivery. As difficult as it may be to fix, Burnett's problems are relatively simple. He tends to get too rotational in his delivery and you'll see his shoulders rotating too early, and in turn see him drop under the ball. When that happens, his location suffers and his action on his pitches vanishes. If the Pittsburgh staff can find a way to keep him on top of the ball, his fastball/curveball combination can still be devastating.

People tend to look for rebuilding teams to be focused on young talent with every move they make. That doesn't always need to be the case. Sometimes low risk opportunities present themselves to make the current team significantly better. A.J. Burnett is no savior, but he makes the Pittsburgh Pirates significantly better with almost no risk involved.

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