A.J. Burnett will likely not be a Yankee a week from now. We’ve all heard that various teams, but most notably the Pirates, are willing to take on somewhere between $10-15 million of Burnett’s salary over two seasons. While it’s entirely possible that the Yankees will pocket the savings, I suspect that the extra cash will be heading somewhere on the Yankee roster.
Some of that will go the a designated hitter, but I don’t think too much of it will. We’ve already heard this offseason that the Yankees did have a few million available to fill the position, and it’s not like Johnny Damon et al. are fielding tons of free agent offers. The Yankees shouldn’t need to dip too far into the budget to fill that position from a current free agent. That means that the extra savings of $5-8 million could be used for another purpose. I think there are three possibilities:
- Contract extensions. With free agency on the near or medium-term horizon for Granderson, Cano, and Swisher, the Yankees may opt to lock one of them up early. Cano in particular could get a raise over his current $14 million to something like $18 million, in a long term extension. Another possibility, albeit more remote, could be a Michael Pineda extension.
- Trade for a DH. Instead of a cheaper free agent, the extra salary room would open up some opportunities for the Yankees to expand their pool of potential designated hitters. Bobby Abreu and Travis Hafner’s names have come up, but I’m sure there exist plenty of creative opportunities out there.
- A midseason acquisition. Halfway through the season, $5-8 million buys the Yankees a $10-16 million rental contract in a salary dump.
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