258 walks later, AJ Burnett may be looking at his last day as a New York Yankee. After three up-and-down years in New York (mostly down) and the additions of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankee front office is looking to shed some payroll by finding someone to take Burnett’s plump contract off their hands (yes, the Yankees need to cut payroll).
In his first year, AJ was a blessing for a stodgy Yankee clubhouse, bringing a much needed lightheartedness and his signature shaving cream pie face-plants. In the two subsequent seasons, that would unfortunately devolve into self-inflicted injuries and arguments with Jorge Posada. After those two poor seasons, both with ERAs above 5.14, AJ Burnett has become the Yankees seventh best starter and will still command $16.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Deal needs MLB approval. Yankees will pay $20M of $30M left on Burnett’s contract, receive two low-level minor leaguers from Pirates.
When we signed AJ Burnett prior to the 2009 season, I was not pleased. I had always rooted against the tattooed, Greenday fan during his years with the Marlins and Blue Jays. Always seeming more like a talented thrower than a thoughtful pitcher, I put Burnett in the group with Josh Beckett and Carlos Zambrano as pitchers to root against while I cheered for the Mike Mussinas and Greg Madduxs of the world.
I quickly had to get on board with AJ Burnett in pinstripes as he was a part of the Yankees strong 2009 off-season that included CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, and his success would be paramount to the Yankees. In his first year, he made this easy to do. His playfulness and on-field success made him a crucial piece to a championship team. He threw 207 innings with respectable 4.04 ERA, and his game 2 performance in the 2009 World Series will be remembered by Yankee fans for years to come. Unfortunately, that would be the climax of his career in New York. He was shelled in game 5 of the 2009 World Series allowing six earned runs in two innings and followed that with an ERA of 5.24 in 2010.
While I thought it was a poor contract at the time, it was largely justified by the results in 2009, when Burnett played a big role in the Yankees’ World Series Championship. Even his back-to-back 5+ ERA seasons haven’t made me forget his contributions. So while I’m far from an AJ Burnett fan, I’m thankful for his contributions to the Yankees 27th World Series Championship. It is time for the Yankees to move forward without Burnett on the roster, and he’d probably benefit from a fresh start and respite from the AL East and the pressures of New York. So, I hope the Yankees are able to complete a trade, but I also thank AJ Burnett for his time in pinstripes and wish him success in Pittsburgh (assuming this trade is finalized) where I (and Jeff Nelson) think he’ll rediscover some of his past glory.
As always, please subscribe to this blog by clicking the “Follow” button at the top of the right sidebar. If you don’t have a WordPress account, you’ll have to enter your email address. You can share your opinions in the comment section below or by tweeting to @Ryan_Kantor. Thanks for reading!