According to ClevelandIndians.com, rumors of a potential deal between the tribe and the New York Yankees have been heating up this week. Cleveland appears to be in the mix for pitcher A.J. Burnett.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently rumored to be the front runners to land Burnett, but things can change very quickly on baseball's hot stove.
Burnett was signed by the Yankees three seasons ago when he inked a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. New York has become accustomed to "prime time" pitchers not working out in the media spotlight of the big city, but even this deal has to come with a grain of salt for the Bronx Bombers. The Yanks would likely be forced to pay out a majority of Burnett's contract to even consider moving him to another team.
The Indians could benefit greatly from shedding the contract obligations of Hafner and adding another quality starter to their rotation. Cleveland has been actively looking for another pitcher after news of Fausto Carmona's legal troubles surfaced a few weeks ago.
Cleveland already acquired Derek Lowe earlier in the winter to sure up their rotation. The tribe also signed Casey Kotchman, which made the services of Hafner expendable for the upcoming season. Hafner has been a bit of a disappointment for the tribe over the past few seasons—as his power numbers significantly declined due to injury and age.
The Indians have been reluctant to make any moves that would hurt their offense over the last few seasons. That means that their willingness to actually trade Hafner may be called into question. It is apparent that the tribe still needs pitching help, but may not be willing to pay the price for Burnett.
Hafner is in the final year of a six-year, $66-million contract with a team option for 2013—according to BaseballReference.com.