Analyzing the AJ Burnett Trade
So the Pirates have acquired AJ Burnett from the Yankees. In exchange, the Pirates will take on $13 million of Burnett’s contract over the next two seasons and will give up Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cardones. Here is some info on whom the Pirates gave up.
Exicardo Cayones- Exicardo was ranked 16th by the Pirates Prospect 2011 Prospect Guide in terms of the Pirates top 50 prospects. He signed in 2008 for $400,000 which at the time was the largest signing bonus and currently ranks as sixth highest. They said he was more of a line drive hitter and can hit to all fields. He has some great speed but was a long drive away from the majors. He entered 2011 as very prmising, and had a chance to make it to the West Virginia Power. Injuries however derailed those hopes and he was assigned to State College. He was visably over-matched with a strikeout rate of 40.6 while still having no abilities to homer. Those rates are rates that even MLB power hitter such as Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds do not even approach. He was demoted back to the Gulf Coast League and hit .293 in 82 at-bats with a .427 slugging percentage. His speed makes him a center fielder, but he was blocked by Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Josh Bell among others. Cayones has the speed to be a great defender, but his offense is not up to snuff. He did not make the Pirates Prospects top 50 prospects for the 2012 Prospect Guide.
Diego Moreno- Moreno also peaked in the Pirates Prospects 2011 Guide with a ranking of 18th best prospect. He signed for $7,000 in 2006 and first appeared in the US in 2009. In West Virginia, Moreno had an 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. He had an opportunity in AA but was demoted back to A ball after a disagreement with Altoona’s coaching staff. Much like Cayones, Moreno fell out of the top 50. He has featured a fastball which tops out at 98 miles per hour, but routinely hits the upper 90’s. In high A, his strikeout numbers fell, and was losing control. Instead of protect Moreno, they sent a clear message when they protected Duke Welker who has a similar skill set. He had a 4.91 ERA in AA last season, and he has stuff that could possibly make the majors but health and attitude could determine that.
AJ Burnett had a rough go in New York. He gave up 31 homers last season, but remember, Yankee Stadium gave up the third most homers last season. PNC Park has a slight edge towards the pitcher, as evidenced by it allowing the sixth fewest home runs last season. Burnett has been labeled immature due in large part to his post-game antics after walkoff wins. Burnett has two World Series rings, and wished to remain on the East Coast. Burnett can mentor a young and injured Pirates pitching staff and can step in right at the top of the rotation. Burnett is very durable and will be able to eat many innings for the team. He wilted under the pressure of the Yankees media, but in Pittsburgh, the media is much less of a prescence.
Overall, this was a great trade for the Pirates in many ways. For one, this shows the fans that the Pirates are willing to spend money and those who say they are cheap are off base. While offering Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt larger contracts is one thing, this deal- a deal where the Pirates will pay $13 million shows fans that the Pirates are serious about trying to be a contender. This also shows that they were not satisfied with what they had. By taking on more of Burnett’s contract, the Pirates gave up two prospects, that while great stories, did not factor in their long term or Major League plans.
The last blockbuster deal the Pirates made with the Yankees had the Pirates giving Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady to the Yankees for Jose Tabata, Daniel McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens. The Pirates obviously won that trade and it looks like the Pirates are two for two in trading with the Yankees in the Neal Huntington era.