New York Yankees

New York Yankees Trading A.J. Burnett Has Nothing to Do with Signing DH

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 26:  A.J. Burnett #34 of the New York Yankees pitches during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 26, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Mike MoraitisAnalyst IFebruary 12, 2012

Many in the New York Yankees universe have speculated that the Bombers trading of A.J. Burnett and his salary will free up the money necessary to sign a DH, namely Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon. However, a source has told ESPN.com that "one thing has nothing to do with the other."

"Whoever it is is going to have to play for $1 million to $2 million,'' the source said. "(The Yankees) are already over budget, so it doesn't matter how much they save on Burnett. One thing has nothing to do with the other.''

The source is confirming what we've known all along: The Yankees are working on a tight budget, maybe even tighter than some of us expected. Owner Hal Steinbrenner won't even budge to fill the DH role left void by the departure of Jesus Montero. It also appears it doesn't matter if it's only a one-year deal, the Yanks are pinching pennies.

It's unlikely—unless any of the three DH candidates I mentioned want to take a huge pay cut—that the Bombers will be able to sign a veteran bat to add to their lineup for such a "small" amount of money. Any one of these three players could find a more well-paying job someplace else with playing time on a more consistent basis.

The writing was already on the wall when the Bombers went out and signed Bill Hall and Russell Branyan. Although both were signed to minor league deals, they fit the roles that New York needed to fill. Hall would replace Eric Chavez as a veteran utility infielder off the bench.

According to the same report, the chances are slim that the Yanks will re-sign Chavez with their focus being on bringing in a utility outfielder. New York could also go with a combination of either Eduardo Nunez, Brandon Laird and/or Ramiro Pena for the infield reserve spot if they see fit.

With a chance to make the team out of spring training, Russell Branyan could be the Yanks' DH in 2012.
With a chance to make the team out of spring training, Russell Branyan could be the Yanks' DH in 2012.Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

 

As for Branyan, he fits the power-hitting, left-handed bat the Bombers needed and has hit some long home runs in the Bronx during his career. He's the ideal fit in Yankee Stadium because of the short right-field porch, but isn't as much a certainty as the Yanks' other DH options after coming off an injury-plagued 2011.

If he makes the team, expect Branyan to get time against right-handers while Andruw Jones will get the majority of at-bats against left-handers.

At this point, if the Yankees were to add a DH, it would be through the trading of Burnett and not free agency. New York attempted to snag Garrett Jones away from the Pittsburgh Pirates, but to no avail. Still, he would've been a utility outfielder first and a DH second.

The Bombers will need one of the three bats left on the market to take an enormous pay cut and I just don't see that happening. At least not to the extent that the Yanks need them to.

It appears that the public "pleading" for the need to add another bat by manager Joe Girardi will go unheard. The conservative approach this offseason is very real in the Bronx and it just might affect who New York sends up to bat in the DH slot for 2012.

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