If a report in today's New York Post is to be believed, news of the financial crunch has yet to filter its way down to the Tampa headquarters of the New York Yankees. The paper reports that, according to several baseball insiders, the Yankees are preparing an offer for A.J. Burnett that could reach $80 million over five years to secure the righty's services.
They blew the rest of baseball away with their opening offer to CC Sabathia, and they could probably go above the $140 million neighborhood they showed him. The Burnett offer is exactly the same. Toronto offered Burnett less than $14 million per year in a four-year pact and, by setting the bar at $16 million, the Yankees are obviously trying to chase away pretenders. Adding a fifth year would eliminate just about any other bidders for the right-hander's services.
Taken together, the two offers send some clear messages to the rest of baseball. First, that we are getting who we want, and there's nothing the rest of you can do about it. And, second, that whatever financial restraints the world is imposing on you, they don't apply to us.
But just because the Yankees want to do it doesn't mean they should do it. Burnett's a very talented pitcher, but has missed significant time in two of his three seasons with the Blue Jays and had serious injury problems while with the Marlins as well. Five years is an awfully long time for a pitcher with that history who turns 32 before next season begins. He's had three seasons with more than 173 innings pitched, is coming off career highs in innings and starts and he turned in quality starts a little more than half the time.
Those are the bad things. Burnett's good points, including his domination of the Yankees and Red Sox, are numerous as well. The thing it comes down to, though, is that filthy stuff doesn't help you in the training room. Burnett isn't very likely to provide full value for this deal throughout its length, and if he doesn't provide it over the first two years he won't even come close. It's a huge bet that only the Yankees may have the wherewithal to make.