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It Appears the A.J. Burnett Era Is Almost Over

A.J. Burnett #34 of the New York Yankees throws to first for the final out of the fifth inning on a ground ball from Delmon Young #21 of the Detroit Tigers during Game Four of the American League Division Series at Comerica Park on October 4, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.

The trade between the Yankees and Pirates — the one that would send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh — is reportedly almost complete. Buster Olney reports that the teams have agreed on the deal and are now just awaiting approval from the commissioner's office, which must okay it because of the money involved. Ah, about that money: Olney reports that the Pirates will pay $13 million of the $31.1 million remaining on Burnett's contract. In return for Burnett, the Yankees will reportedly receive two minor leaguers: 25-year-old righty reliever Diego Moreno and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones.

Look, Burnett might not have been very popular with Yankees fans — particularly toward the end of his time in New York — but this trade isn't a cause for celebration. It's recognition that a pitcher the Yankees intended to be a pillar of their rotation might not have even had a starting job out of spring training in what would have been his fourth season in pinstripes. We saw glimpses of how good Burnett can be — we'll always have Game 2 of the 2009 World Series — but he was still far too inconsistent for a guy earning $16.5 million a year. (If you're curious about the math here, Olney explains that Burnett is on a year-round contract and has already been paid $1.9 million in 2012, hence the $31.1 million remaining.)

Burnett did have some impressive days as a Yankee — check out this box score, or this one, or this one — but it's safe to say the last three years didn't go as planned. It's the kind of expensive mistake the deep-pocketed Yankees can afford to make: Burnett might be overpaid, but he didn't exactly cripple the organization, and now they're willing and able to pay him a lot of money to go pitch for another team. 

The Yankees can now turn their attention to addressing their designated hitter situation, but really, here's the most important question in all of this: If the pie-throwing Burnett's time in New York is indeed over, how will the Yankees celebrate their walk-offs going forward?

Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images