4 Jan 2012
The Yankees are supposedly interested in Hideki Kuroda and Edwin Jackson, but “not at these prices”. The problem is, I don’t think they would be interested at any price.
Start with the fact that the Yankees have five starters right now. (CC, Nova, Hughes, AJ and Garcia) Now yes, one of them could be traded, but who exactly do you think that would be? CC isn’t going anywhere and I highly doubt the Yankees would trade Hughes or Nova right now. That leaves Garcia and AJ. I think we all know which one of those two the Yankees would want to trade, but everyone knows they can’t do it without paying a significant portion of his salary. The Yankees know they have to spend $16.5 million next year and in 2013 on AJ, I don’t think they want to spend any more on replacing him. So, let’s say the Yankees have to throw in $20 million to go with AJ Burnett, putting the team acquiring him on the hook for $6.5 million per year. That $10 million per year has to be added to the cost of signing a Kuroda or Jackson. Meaning there is absolutely no way to get one of them and get rid of AJ without spending more money overall than you would by just keeping AJ.
And that’s why I think the Yankees might simply delete AJ from the roster in a trade, paying a big part of the freight, and let one of their prospects take his spot. It makes sense from an economic standpoint, they only cost $450K per year right now and it is hard for me to envision a scenario where they are collectively worse than Burnett. It seems like a simple calculation on the Yankees’ part. If they think that some combination of Phelps, Noesi, Warren, Banuelos and Betances can give them 32 starts and an ERA under 5, why not send AJ away?
I think that’s a bet they are far more likely to make than rolling the dice on another free agent pitcher.