And Now What?

Reports are the AJ Burnett deal is done. The Yankees will get $13 million of salary relief and two “prospects”. I put that last part in quotes because one of the names mentioned, Diego Moreno, can hardly be considered a prospect. We will have to wait and see who the other prospect is, but the players are not the point of this deal. The point was to clear some of AJ’s salary and clear up the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation.

The big question is what are the Yankees going to do with the $6.5 million of salary relief. The rumors are they will use it to sign Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez. I’m not a fan of either move. Of the two, Chavez makes more sense at this point because the Yankees could use the depth at third and there are very few alternatives out there. However, Ibanez still makes no sense to me, especially with Damon or Matsui, still available.

As for the fifth spot in the rotation, it seems to be a pretty simple calculation to me. If the Yankees still believe in Phil Hughes’ long term viability as a starter, he has to get the job. Freddy Garcia is a nice player and he certainly did well for the Yankees last year, but he isn’t the future and Hughes is. Now, if the Yankees feel that Hughes is better suited to relief, then he ends up in the bullpen, but that seems like a waste to me when you already have Robertson and Soriano out there to set up for Mariano. Part of me wonders if this fifth starter competition will be similar to the 2009 one where Hughes basically had the job from day 1.

Final note, word is the second prospect from Pittsburgh is Exicardo Cayones. He is actually more of a prospect. Just 20, he has hit .272/.372/.380 in 558 plate appearances. The OBP is an encouraging sign and if he could develop some power, he might turn into a viable prospect, but he is clearly a long way off.