In Risky Move, Yanks Sign Burnett

Oft-disabled pitcher gets 5-year, $82.5M contract

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 13, 2008 6:23 AM CST

(Newser) – The New York Yankees have snapped up free agent pitcher AJ Burnett with a 5-year, $82.5 million contract—and the deal could be a risky one, writes Jay Jaffe in Baseball Prospectus. Burnett’s contract forces the team to hold onto him for all 5 years unless they trade him; this for a pitcher whose continued arm problems have frequently kept him off the field.

In 2006 and 2007, Burnett was on the disabled list for over 4 months, and “now that he's not pitching for a contract, it might only be a matter of time before Burnett winds up” there again, Jaffe notes. Still, the New York Post observes that adding the combination of Burnett and CC Sabathia gives the Yankees arguably “the best rotation in baseball.”

In this Sept. 13, 2008 file photo, onetime Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher A.J. Burnett winds up.
In this Sept. 13, 2008 file photo, onetime Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher A.J. Burnett winds up.   (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
In this Aug. 29, 2008 file photo, the Toronto Blue Jays' A.J. Burnett delivers a first inning pitch against the New York Yankees.
In this Aug. 29, 2008 file photo, the Toronto Blue Jays' A.J. Burnett delivers a first inning pitch against the New York Yankees.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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With Burnett, Yankees' "Empire Strikes Back"?   (NIFL08)

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Burnett's combination of fragility and perceived squeamishness calls to mind the darkest chapter of Yankee GM Brian Cashman's tenure. - Jay Jaffe

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