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The Burnett trade should have been voided? What?

Feb 20, 2012, 9:20 AM EDT

A.J. Burnett AP

The Yankees traded A.J. Burnett to the Pirates. They’re paying $20 million of his contract. The Pirates are getting a pitcher who, despite his problems, could be pretty good in the NL Central and definitely improves their staff. They’re only paying $6.5 million a year for him and didn’t have to give up much talent at all to get him.

This is a win-win deal, right?  And even if it’s not totally win-win, it’s not like anyone is taking advantage of anyone, right?

Well, that’s not what Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star says. He thinks the trade is an atrocity of some kind that should have be voided by Bud Selig in the best interests of baseball.  Allow him to explain:

It’s great for the Pirates because they are not a real contender and now have a short-term starting ace who won’t get attached and be looking for something awkward — like, say, an extension. It’s great for the Yankees because now they can add in other areas and win it all again.

Wait. That makes it sound like a fine deal, Mr. Griffin. Try again. Why is this so awful?

With A.J. coming off an 18-win, 231 strikeout season, the Yanks outbid all comers. They offered an outrageous five years and $88.5 million for a guy who was barely .500 and has always required the presence of better pitchers on his own staff to be most effective.

The commissioner’s office should consider how that bad Burnett contract impacted other similar free agents in the winter of 2008-09 and the next off-season and how it had a negative trickle down effect that hurt small market teams like Pittsburgh.

I dunno, I’m lost. You go read it. The best I can gather is that Griffin didn’t like the original contract the Yankees handed out to Burnett so … the trade three years later should be voided? Am I missing something here?

This is a perfectly acceptable baseball move. Each team is trying to get better, the Pirates by moderate addition, the Yankees by subtraction.  In what possible way does this deal make anyone uncomfortable?

  1. phillyphreak - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    Hey look..pitcher wins!

  2. itsacurse - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    He wants the Blue Jays to be awarded Yu Darvish as compensation.

  3. uyf1950 - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I wonder how he felt when the Jays unloaded Vernon Wells? Besides if this writer can’t get a simple fact about how much the Yankees signed Burnett for how can he be taken seriously. It was 5yrs/$82.5MM NOT 5yrs/$88.5MM.

    • proudlycanadian - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      The quality and salaries of the 2 players trade for Wells was a tad better than the players traded for Burnett, but I get your point.

      • deathmonkey41 - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:08 AM

        I still can’t believe the Blue Jays were able to pull off that Wells trade. I can live until 90 and still never fully believe it.

      • cur68 - Feb 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        Alex Anthopolous has the DNA of a GM…

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 20, 2012 at 1:44 PM

        Very True!

  4. proudlycanadian - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    He wants the Yankees to be forced to use AJ as a starting pitcher.

    • dcfan4life - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      The way the Cubs had to use Alfonso Soriano. But the Yankees are so rich they dump players and still pay the majority of their contracts and dont mind. No other team can really do that, especially with such consistancy.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:04 AM

        dcfan4life – Not to nitpick but you you name for me 3 players the Yankees have “dumped” not including AJ Burnett in the last 20 years. Because I can’t.

        Dumped – meaning the Yankees paid another team to take them while the Yankees continued to pay a substantial or even decent portion of their salary during that time.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        I’ll give you four in the last ten years:

        Jeff Weaver
        Javier Vazquez
        Randy Johnson
        Jaret Wright

      • uyf1950 - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        heynerdinger – do you have a problem comprehending what you read? I said dumped. None of the players you mentioned were dumped by the Yankees. They all played out their contracts with the Yankees.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:02 AM

        Check out baseball-reference.com. Each one of those guys were traded with cash to another team.

        But hey, maybe I didn’t *comprehend* the idea of actually looking something up instead of bullshitting off the hip.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM

        Weaver:
        December 13, 2003: Traded by the New York Yankees with Brandon Weeden (minors), Yhency Brazoban and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Kevin Brown.

        Vazquez:
        January 11, 2005: Traded by the New York Yankees with Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson.

        Johnson:
        January 9, 2007: Traded by the New York Yankees with cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Alberto Gonzalez, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf and Luis Vizcaino.

        Wright:
        November 12, 2006: Traded by the New York Yankees with cash to the Baltimore Orioles for Chris Britton.

      • djyankeefan - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        @heynerdlinger–Weaver was traded for Kevin Brown, Vazquez was traded for Johnson, both assumed to be better pitchers at the time. Johnson requested to be traded back to Arizona. Wright would be the only one who holds any water in your argument.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 12:15 PM

        djyankeefan – What’s your point? That people thought these were good trades at the time? That doesn’t change the fact that the team trading with the Yankees needed cash to reduce the salary of the players they were receiving.

    • deathmonkey41 - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      Weaver:
      December 13, 2003: Traded by the New York Yankees with Brandon Weeden (minors), Yhency Brazoban and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Kevin Brown.

      Wow- do you remember what Kevin Brown’s contract was? I don’t think the Yanks were dumping any salary there- I think it was the other way around.

      Vazquez:
      January 11, 2005: Traded by the New York Yankees with Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Randy Johnson.

      Once again- what was Johnson’s contract compared to Vazquez’s?

      Johnson:
      January 9, 2007: Traded by the New York Yankees with cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Alberto Gonzalez, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf and Luis Vizcaino.

      THe Yankees paid 2 mil of a 16 mil contract… Then Johnson signed an extension with the Diamondbacks.

      Wright:
      November 12, 2006: Traded by the New York Yankees with cash to the Baltimore Orioles for Chris Britton.

      The Yankees paid 4 mil of a 7 mil contract- not exactly dumping off a huge contract. The dude was hurt all the time and getting booed in NY.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        Who said anything about it being a huge contract? The point was a “decent” amount of salary. Reasonable people may disagree, but I’d say that 25%-50% is a decent.

        If my memory serves, Kevin Brown had only a year left on his contract with the Dodgers when they traded him. I believe that Weaver had several years left on his.

        There’s also Kenny Rogers in 1997, and Melky Cabrerra a few years ago.

        The truth is that most teams have trades like this in the past. The Yankees are no exception.

      • deathmonkey41 - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        In addition to assuming the final two years of Brown’s landmark seven-year, $105 million contract, which calls for $15 million salaries in 2004 and 2005, New York also agreed to pay $3 million of the $15.5 million in salaries due to Weaver over the next two years.

        Weaver was making half of what Brown was making.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Also, I believe that the B-Ref trade items will say “A traded by B to C for D and cash” if the cash is going the other way.

      • deathmonkey41 - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:34 AM

        Melky Cabrera??? Really? The dude was making nothing relatively speaking.

        The Vazquez deal frees up about $9 million for the Braves to spend on upgrading their offense — Vazquez’s $11.5 million salary, minus the $3 million or so Cabrera figures to earn via arbitration, and getting the $500,000 in cash from the Yankees.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:35 AM

        As I said, reasonable people can disagree, but I’d say that 20% is a decent amount of salary to pick up.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        Again, no one said anything about these being huge contracts, but even with Melky’s trade, the Yanks picked up 15% of his salary.

        This in no way validates the premise of the article, btw. Every team has these deals once in a while. The Yankees are no different.

      • deathmonkey41 - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM

        But it’s not a salary dump if the Yankees for the Yankees if they’re picking up more salary in return.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        I wouldn’t count any of these as “salary dumps” because the team picking up the player is also getting paid. A salary dump is when the team getting the player also picks up the full salary.

        But more to the point, whoever the player being traded is, he’s got a salary that’s higher than another team wants to pay for his services. The Yankees threw in cash to lower the cost of the player being traded. That fits the profile (if not the scale) of the Burnett trade.

        The Yankees are dumping Burnett. They’re not dumping his salary.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 20, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        None of these are salary dumps, and neither is the Burnett deal. The Yankees are dumping the *player* and they’re willing to eat salary to do it, just like they did for these other players.

  5. Francisco (FC) - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    I’m not sure but maybe Griffin believes that since the Yankees were able to pry away A.J. from the Jays by throwing money around (and this wasn’t vetoed), they made their bed and should have to lay in it by continuing to have A.J and his salary on the Roster and thus continue to get hit by the Luxury Tax. Now their “Big Mistake” is a “Smaller Mistake” since they were able to minimize the last two years of hurt by getting rid of A.J. for $10 MM a year (I’m not sure if that portion of A.J.s Salary will continue to count against the Yankees Luxury Tax ceiling?). I don’t know I’m just throwing stuff on the wall, see if anything sticks. Your guess is as good as mine.

    • itsacurse - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      That’s insane. If Richard Griffin bought a house in Toronto, then lost his job, and the neighborhood went south, but somebody offered to pay him a half of what he spent for it, he’d probably be pretty angry if the city said “Sorry, you can’t sell. That’s no risk for you and plenty of reward. You made your bed, and now you have to lay in it.”

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

        Toronto real estate prices continue to rise.

      • Old Gator - Feb 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        Word is getting around about the great deli up there.

    • paperlions - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      You could actually argue that their big mistake got bigger. Instead of getting 5 years of a starter for $82.5M ($16.5M/year), they got 3 years of a starter for $69.5M ($23.17M/year).

    • jwbiii - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:43 AM

      The $20M does count against the Yankees salary cap.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        The portion picked up by the Pirates $13MM I do NOT believe counts against the Yankees salary cap/luxury tax.

        The Yankees are responsible for $20MM of the $33MM due AJ in his final 2 years. The balance $13MM which is being picked up by the Pirates fall to their payroll numbers.

      • jwbiii - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:58 AM

        Right.

  6. sndvl99 - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Did that reporter actually use the word ace to describe Burnett?

    • pisano - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      sndv199… that was a mistake, he meant ass, as in horse’s ass.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM

        Correct. It was a tyop.

  7. bluenoser23 - Feb 20, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    All you need to know about Griffin is that he worked in the front office of the Expos for many years.

  8. Pierre Cruzatte - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    He doesn’t say it well, but he’s trying to say that NYY shouldn’t be able to blow up the market with big contracts and then get out from under them (baseball-wise, if not financially). So it’s not so much “you made the bed, now lie in it” as it is “you peed all over everybody’s beds, you can’t go stay at the Ritz for the weekend.”

    • paperlions - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      What he apparently doesn’t understand is that bad contracts do not “blow up the market”. The media always says that….fans always say that….it simply doesn’t happen. Papelbon got a dumb contract, how did that affect the market for closers? Vernon Wells got a dumb contract, how did that affect the market for OFers?

      Outlier contracts are just that….yes, agents/players will try to use them as a bases for their negotiation, but the vast majority of teams don’t change their valuation system based on outliers…they ignore them and value positions/players just as they did before such contracts. If players insist on getting stupid money for too long, they find themselves with a very small market.

      • umrguy42 - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM

        “If players insist on getting stupid money for too long, they find themselves with Arte Moreno lately.”

        FTFY. ;p

  9. yankeesfanlen - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    As we always said in retail – “NO REFUNDS ON CLEARANCE MERCHANDISE”.

  10. deathmonkey41 - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Maybe the translation just got screwed up when his piece got moved from Canadian to English? Does it make more sense if you add a whole bunch of “eh’s” back in?

  11. rip4gehrig - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Richard “Dick” griffin is a sore loser.

  12. mattjg - Feb 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    As the writers of a deceased blog said so often when linking to a Richard Griffin article, fuck the heck?

  13. kiwicricket - Feb 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    3yrs of poop for around 23million per.
    It’s always nice to have closure on a subject such as this.

  14. 5thbase - Feb 20, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    I think it’s more of an argument for why the rules should be changed to disallow paying other teams to take bad contracts than it is for why a particular deal should be voided under the current rules.

    I don’t personally think anything needs to be changed, but it would be interesting if you were simply not allowed to do this. I do think it would change the salary inflation a bit and it would prevent a few teams from being able to over-pay to get the best free agents nearly every year.

    However, owners only have themselves to blame for salary inflation so if they feel they need to pay a guy more just because the Yankees overpaid someone else, I don’t really care. As for the issue of the same teams getting the ‘best’ free agents, I’ll start caring when they win more than one World Series in a ten year timespan.

  15. brian32556 - Feb 20, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    PLEASE VOID THE OLD CONTRACT! Give my Yankees more money to play with!! LOL

  16. jaysprospectarilo - Feb 20, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Me when Burnett opted out from Blue Jays to sign with Yankees “)(&!(*^@!(*^@#*&%^#&^%%^@$#!!!!!”
    Me watching Burnett getting his ass burned by the Blue Jays in every trip to T.O. since: ” ^_^”
    Me when Vernon Wells signed long term extension “FFS!!!!”
    Me when dealt to LAA “^_^”
    Me when Napoli tore up the WS “FCK!!!!!!!”

    Its sports – can’t win for losing and why should a deal be voided because two organizations agree to the deal and the finances are in the adverse for the team actually moving the highly paid player? Realistically – bitch and moan but this is the nature of sports. 2 Men (or a woman – maybe) consider the long and short term benefits to a trade and agree verbally and punch out the legalities afterwards.

    I think returning to a team with minimal pressure and less expectations to win will do AJ some good. Barajas was a good reciever for him and maybe can help him straighten his issues with that hook of his out. Or not, and he will bomb. Either way…thats the way the cookie crumbles.

  17. dukeofhurl - Feb 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    I really don’t think that Griffin was writing this in a point of view of the Blue Jays at all. He’s just as stupid and negative when talking about Bluejays as he was in this article. He is the Toronto Star’s resident baseball “expert”, yet his baseball knowledge begins and ends with patting the butts of the Oakville A’s bantam baseball players which he coaches. Since he can’t write an intelligent baseball piece he makes up crap like this and stuff about the Bluejays ownership group holding the team back.

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