After several days of reports and speculation of a deal, the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees finally agreed on a trade that will send starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh in exchange for relief pitcher Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones. The Yankees also agreed to pay all but $13 million dollars of Burnett's $31.1 million dollar salary remaining over the next two seasons.
The only thing keeping this from being a completed deal is that the deal needs commissioner approval because of the money involved. I will say this. If Bud Selig vetoes this deal and screws the Pirates over, we'll know for sure that he hates small market baseball.
This is a great deal for the Pirates. I know Burnett has had his struggles the last few years but a lot of scouts agree he still has top tier pitching talent and think a move out of the A.L. East division and especially out of New York might boost his stats greatly. Burnett wouldn't be the first pitcher hurt by the bright lights of New York.
I know there are haters and doubters out there who will always question what the Pirates are doing, but this is the kind of deal they need to make to get better. Burnett has the potential to be the top of the rotation ace this team has been missing for a long time. Pair him up with free agent signing Erik Bedard, and you can have a strong 1-2 punch on this Pirate staff.
This should help take off a lot of pressure on the younger arms who are showing good signs of development. Charlie Morton and James McDonald and even Jeff Karstens shouldn't feel as much pressure to carry the the team anymore. That will go a long way in carrying this team towards the Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon era.
I don't think anyone can deny that Burnett and Bedard provide a big time upgrade over Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf. The only question will be Bedard's ability to stay healthy. Neither of these moves cost the Pirates much outside of salary, so the risk is minimal.
Imagine if the Pirates had also been able to secure Edwin Jackson?
There's still a lot of question marks surrounding the Pirates but the division has gotten a lot easier with the defections of Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and the 50-game suspension of Ryan Braun. This could be the year the Pirates break their streak of losing seasons. Lord knows the Pirates fans can't wait for that day.