The Pirates have acquired starting pitcher A.J. Burnett from the New York Yankees, pending a physical and approval from Major League Baseball, I’ve just learned.
The trade is comprised almost entirely of cash, with the Yankees responsible for $20 million of the $33 million Burnett is due over the final two seasons of his contract. Because the Pirates agreed to take on far more of that salary than any other team, they will only have to give up two Class A prospects, neither among their best. One is hard-throwing reliever Diego Moreno. The other has not yet been identified.
Burnett likely will have his physical this weekend, then join the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., where pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training Saturday.
Because the deal involves cash, it must be approved by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig. That is expected no later than Monday.
Moreno is a hard-throwing right-hander, at one point the hardest-throwing pitcher in the Pirates’ system, reaching up to 98 mph. That’s exceptionally hard for someone who weighs only 177 pounds, but the Pirates began souring on him last summer in large part because of that suspension in 2010. Moreno was kissing a fan in the Class AA Altoona bullpen during a game and was suspended a week for “unprofessional conduct.” In general, the team saw immaturity issues on and off the mound and, later that winter, left him exposed in the Rule 5 draft. No one claimed him.
Neither of the two departing prospects rank among the Pirates’ top 30, as rated by Baseball America.
UPDATE 2:47 p.m.: The other prospect is outfielder Exicardo Cayones, I’ve confirmed.
I’ve always liked Cayones, who once went 7 for 7 in a game and, at the time he was signed for $400,000, was the most expensive international bonus the Pirates had ever given out. The Yankees actually were one of his suitors, but the Pirates had the inside track. The way it’s been told to me, the Pirates gave Cayones a take-it-or-leave-it offer just before they had a good idea the Yankees would swoop in. Cayones took it.