Rumors have been swirling in the past week with regards to a potential trade of A.J. Burnett—something that has given just about every Yankee fan a reason to smile.
At this point, it's safe to assume that fans just want him out; they would be willing to trade him for nothing more than salary relief.
The idea is that whatever money is saved from Burnett will be used to sign one of the remaining free agent designated hitters (i.e. Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon or Raul Ibanez).
Over the course of the past few days, it has become apparent that the Yankees seek more in return in a potential deal for Burnett.
Everybody knows of Burnett's struggles over the past few seasons. As a Yankee, he has compiled a 34-35 record with an ERA of 4.79. He has been a solid innings eater, however, and that's the fact that General Manager Brian Cashman is looking to cash in on.
A trade to the Angels seems unlikely given the fact that Burnett has placed them on his list of ten teams he would veto a trade to, but because they have interest in him it would be unfair not to look at a potential package.
There are two intriguing options here—the first of which is the most likely.
The Angels have a very crowded outfield and unloading an older player would make it easier for top prospect Mike Trout to find some playing time.
The player who would be the easiest to move is most likely 37-year-old Bobby Abreu.
Abreu, a former Yankee, would fit nicely into the Yankees vacant DH spot. He has a proven track record, is left-handed and gets on base at a level that would surely boost an already potent offense.
A deal would most likely have to be a one-for-one, with some cash headed in the Angels' direction.
Abreu's contract comes off the books in 2013, while Burnett's doesn't until 2014.
The other option that hasn't really been discussed involves infielder Mark Trumbo.
Trumbo had a fantastic rookie campaign, mashing 29 home runs and knocking in 87 runs. He was very impatient, however, as he posted an OBP of just .291.
The Angels have a logjam of sorts at first base with Albert Pujols—the obvious favorite, and the injury-riddled Kendry Morales ready to make a comeback. There were talks of moving Trumbo to third base, but Alberto Callaspo played well enough last season to warrant consideration for the job yet again.
This leaves Trumbo as a member of a DH rotation (most likely with Peter Bourjos or Morales), or trade bait.
A deal for Trumbo would take much more than just Burnett, as the Yankees would likely have to part with prospects to obtain the young slugger.
Including Adam Warren or David Phelps in the deal would definitely move talks along. The only snag in the deal would be if money would be transferred from either side.
Either way, I doubt Burnett is traded to the Angels. He would prefer to stay on the East Coast, and the Yankees are looking to get some sort of financial relief for him.
The Royals rumored interest surprises me, given the fact that the only player the Yankees would most likely want to obtain is Billy Butler—far and away the teams best hitter.
Sure, Alex Gordon enjoyed a breakout season in 2011, but it's anybody's guess as to his level of production in 2012.
Butler is a consistent threat in the middle of the lineup. He proved so last season, hitting .291/.361/.461 with 19 home runs and 95 RBI.
The Royals are a team on the rise, so a trade involving their best player would have to really overwhelm the team.
A package would have to begin with Burnett and Phelps, with possibly Eduardo Nunez becoming involved.
Nunez could take over for Chris Getz at second base, as Yuniesky Betancourt and Alcides Escobar will occupy shortstop for both the short and long-term.
There would be no cash exchange in this deal.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, this deal isn't likely to happen either. The Royals may have been rumored to be interested in Burnett, but it's hard to believe that they would have strong enough interest to trade their best player.
Travis Hafner would have made great sense for the Yankees.
Sure, he's been injured and inconsistent lately, but it's hard to bet against Pronk rejuvenating his career with that short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. Slotting him in the DH spot and hitting him 7th or 8th would have helped to make the lineup even deeper.
Despite the fact that this rumor was shot down, I still like the Indians as trade partners.
The Indians, on the heels of the Fausto Carmona illegal documents scandal, are searching for another starter to take his place. Currently, David Huff figures to slot in as the fifth starter.
Cleveland could offer a package of one or two low-level prospects and salary relief for Burnett, possibly in the $8-$12 million range.
An offer like this could probably get a deal done. The only problem is that Cashman may be wary to trade Burnett to an American League team that could surprise many people this season and compete.
The Pirates and Yankees have been in talks regarding Burnett for several days now, and it almost seems like a guarantee that a deal will get done.
The Yankees first asked for Garrett Jones, which the Pirates quickly declined.
Next, the Pirates offered low-level prospects and about $10 million in salary relief. Although it would seem like a good deal, Cashman and the Yankees have been holding out for about $13 million.
Whether the $3 million difference is the real snag in talks remains to be seen, but the Pirates have made it clear that they will not be trading any players on their 40-man roster for Burnett.
Given the recent rumors, Burnett's days in New York are most likely over.
In my opinion, as well as the opinions of many others smarter than I, the Pirates and Yankees will come to an agreement on the money and prospects being sent to New York.
The deal benefits all parties—Pittsburgh gets a veteran innings eater to help their young rotation and the Yankees will get the salary relief necessary to finish tweaking their lineup before spring training.
Don't be surprised if Burnett is traded by spring training, but don't be surprised if you don't recognize the names of some of the players involved in the deal.