Today, Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal are reporting that the Indians and Angels are still having conversations about a Burnett trade.
Heyman says talks with the Indians center on designated hitter Travis Hafner. Problem is, of course, Hafner is owed $13 million this season with a club option for 2013. Burnett will make $16.5 million each of the next two years. That’s a fairly significant gap, plus Hafner is coming off a pretty productive year, especially against right-handers. He’s a nice fit for the Yankees — he hit .302/.404/.482 vs. RHP last season — but his contract isn’t disasterous enough to suggest the Indians would be willing to do a contract-for-contract swap.
Rosenthal reports the Angels are “interested” in Burnett, but they’re also on Burnett’s no-trade list. The Angels have already taken on a ton of salary this season, and they already have a strong front four in their rotation. I have to think they see Burnett as an innings eating No. 5 starter because he doesn’t fit any higher than that in their rotation. The Angels have some bad contracts of their own that they could try to dump, though I’m not sure the Yankees would be willing to take on Vernon Wells’ debacle of a deal, and I’m not sure one year of Torii Hunter or Bobby Abreu is enough to offset Burnett’s contract.
There’s something to like about either possibility, but the best bet might still be the Pirates simply agreeing to take on a little more than a third of the Burnett contract so that the Yankees can sign one of the remaining free agents.
One last note from Rosenthal: He says there are some in the Yankees organization who think the team could get more in return for Burnett by trading him at the deadline. Seems like a significant risk to me. Would the Yankees keep Burnett in the rotation just to maximize his value? How’s Burnett’s stock going to rise by pitching in long relief? And frankly, the team could use a hitter right now. No need to wait.
UPDATE, 4:02 p.m.: No surprise, it seems a swap of A.J. Burnett for Travis Hafner is no longer on the table.
Associated Press photo