A.J. Burnett to Pirates: Yankees Reach Agreement to Send Fallen Ace to Bucs

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterFebruary 17, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 08:  A.J. Burnett #34 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox during their game on June 8, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Yankees have reportedly agreed to trade A.J. Burnett to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Finally.

The news comes straight from Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, who says the two teams are working through "one final detail" today. Burnett will take a physical on Sunday.

According to MLB.com, the Yankees are getting outfielder Exicardo Cayones and right-handed reliever Diego Moreno in return for Burnett. The Yankees have also agreed to pay $20 million of the $33 million remaining on Burnett's contract.

Burnett will end his Yankees career with a 34-35 record and a 4.79 ERA in three seasons.

What It Means

In Yankee-land, the competition for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation is going to get a little less crowded. 

With Burnett out of the picture, it will be between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. Garcia likely has the inside track at the No. 5 spot, as he made 25 starts and posted a solid 3.62 ERA in 2011. Hughes has starting experience, but he's probably a better fit in the bullpen.

The Yankees won't miss Burnett, but he'll be a big acquisition for the Pirates. Transitioning over to the National League should, in theory, help Burnett rediscover his old form. If he does, the Pirates are getting a pitcher who is going to give them 30-plus starts and over 200 effective innings.

The Pirates will have Burnett for the next two years. If he ends up being a top-of-the-rotation starter for them, the Pirates will be getting a bargain.

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What Happens Next

Not a whole lot, really. The Yankees are going to take all the time they need assessing who should be their No. 5 starter, and the Pirates are going to see what Burnett has in spring training.

When the regular season begins, the Yankees are probably going to quickly forget that Burnett is gone. No matter who ends up claiming the No. 5 spot, their rotation is going to be rock-solid from top to bottom, and they'll have an extra guy in the bullpen in case somebody gets hurt. If nobody gets hurt, the Yankees will have the luxury of one of the deepest bullpens in baseball.

If Burnett reignites his career in Pittsburgh, the Pirates could be sleeper contenders in the National League Central this year. After all, they got off to a pretty good start in 2011, but just couldn't maintain it. An effective Burnett gives them a better chance at staying consistent.

For the Pirates, this is an ultimate "we shall see" trade. Either they've made a brilliant move, or they've given up two prospects and have agreed to pay $13 million for nothing.

We shall see.

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