While hte deal hasn’t been officially completed yet, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the prospects that the Yankees are reportedly acquiring from Pittsburgh in the AJ Burnett trade. Given the low value that AJ and his salary commanded on the trade market, a big return was not expected, especially considering the Pirates are taking on part of AJ’s salary. A non-moronic GM is simply not going to deal legitimate prospects for what is essentially a salary dump, and fortunately for the Pirates, Neal Huntington is no fool.
For what it’s worth, neither of these guys are on John Sickels’ Pirates Top 20 list, nor on Pirate Prospects’ organizational top 30. Since there was little out there on these guys from the usual suspects (BA, Law, KG, Sickels), I had to go to Pirates Prospects to get my info on these guys.
Diego Moreno is probably the most intriguing of the two prospects in the deal, despite his age (25). Moreno was signed at the ripe old age of 20 out of Venezuela for a piddling $7,000 bonus. He has worked almost exclusively as a reliever throughout his minor league career, and would likely project to occupy that role in the Yankee system as well.
Moreno is a 6’1″ righty who can bring some gas out of the ‘pen, running his fastball up to the mid-high 90′s and complementing the pitch with a sharp mid-80′s slider. Moreno can flash a changeup on occasion, but he primarily works as a 2-pitch guy. He works with a 3/4 delivery that can be tough on righties. Overall his minor league performance has been solid, striking out nearly 10 batters per 9 innings and walking only about 2 per 9, with a 2.41 ERA. He reached AA Altoona in 2011 after spending most of the season in high-A, and my guess is he would start out in Trenton.
There is even less information out there about the other prospect in the deal, 20 year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones. He was signed for $400,000 out of Venezuela in 2008, which at the time was the largest bonus the Pirates had given to an international free agent. Cayones has bounced around several outfield positions and has not reached higher than the New York-Penn League in his short minor league career. Overall he has batted .272/.372/.380, showing some solid on-base skills but not much power or basestealing ability. Perhaps he could be a lesser version of Ramon Flores just based on his numbers, but there’s not a whole lot to get worked up about here. He could start in Charleston this year.
Not surprisingly, the Yankees did not get much in the way of legitimate prospects in this trade. This makes sense, since the purpose of the deal was to clear a rotation spot for Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia and dump some salary to sign a DH and a bench player. Getting Pittsburgh to take on $13 million of Burnett’s deal likely allows those two things to happen so overall it’s hard not to look at the deal as a success. If they can free up some money for Jorge Soler, even better. It’s surely not a great return for the Yankees’ #2 starter in 2009, but seeing how far AJ has fallen, it was better to get something than nothing.
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