It appears as if the deal to move him to Pittsburgh is in place, but we'll leave Rob's question open for debate in another way: Should the Tigers have tried to trade for AJ Burnett? -- Kurt
With the recent news that A.J. Burnett vetoed a trade to the Los Angeles Angels yesterday, the discussion opened: where would he end up? Clearly, the Yankees aren't interested in employing the righthander for the last two seasons of his contract. Judging by his performance thus far in New York, I don't blame them. Burnett has fallen off a cliff in the past two seasons, posting the two worst ERAs of his career while going a combined 21-26. His peripherals (via Fangraphs) were better, but still nothing to write home about.
So why is this even a discussion topic?
Well, we're bored. Aside from this fact, there's also how Burnett compares to the Tigers' current pitching staff. Even with his ugly performance of the past two seasons, Burnett's numbers are still better than Brad Penny's. Burnett could repeat his 2011 performance and still improve the rotation; if he reverts to his pre-2010 self, the Tigers could legitimately claim to have the best 5-man rotation in baseball.
The million -- or 16.5 million, for that matter -- dollar question is this: will Burnett improve if he's traded? Many people, myself included, believe that Burnett is simply failing under the New York Hype Machine. He certainly wouldn't be the first to melt under the pressure of Yankee Stadium, the Steinbrenner family, and the New York media. Of course, this could also be a product of his age. Burnett is 35 and, barring injury, will surpass 2,000 career innings pitched early this season.
In the end, it all boils down to whether landing Burnett would be worth the cost. He's owed $16.5 million over each of the next two seasons and isn't getting any younger. The deal in place with Pittsburgh, yet to be finalized, would bring New York two low-level minor leaguers if the Yankees agree to toss in $20 million of Burnett's future salary. Would picking up the other $13 million be worth it?
While the idea is intriguing on a listless Friday afternoon in February, I don't think it's feasible. What do you think? Could the Tigers have put together a better offer? Or is this simply the (hopefully) last case of offseason boredom rearing its ugly head?