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MLB gives OK to Burnett deal between Pirates, Yankees

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Monday, Feb. 20, 2012
 

BRADENTON, Fla. — A.J. Burnett is finally a Pirate.

Major League Baseball on Sunday night finalized the trade between the Pirates and New York Yankees, bringing Burnett to Pittsburgh in exchange for two Class A prospects.

The Yankees got reliever Diego Moreno and corner outfielder Exicardo Cayones, neither of whom was prominent in the Pirates' plans. The Pirates also got $20 million to cover part of the $33 million salary Burnett is owed over the next two seasons.

Because the deal involved significant cash, it had to be approved by commissioner Bud Selig.

Burnett passed a physical Sunday afternoon at Pirate City as pitchers and catchers held their first spring training.

"A.J. Burnett is a solid veteran starting pitcher with an above-average pitch repertoire and potential to provide us with significant quality innings from our starting rotation," general manager Neal Huntington said.

Burnett, 35, has a 121-111 record and a 4.10 ERA over 13 seasons in the majors. He threw a no-hitter in 2001 and won World Series rings with the Florida Marlins in 2003 and the Yankees in 2009.

In 2008, Burnett went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA for the Toronto Blue Jays and led the American League with 34 games started. But over three years with the Yankees, Burnett went just 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA. Last season, Burnett had the third-worst ERA in the AL and allowed a career-high 31 homers.

The Pirates must make a personnel move Monday to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Burnett.

Teammates again

Catcher Rod Barajas is happy to be reunited with Burnett.

The two formed an effective battery in 2008 for the Toronto Blue Jays. Burnett won 18 games and led the American League with 231 strikeouts. Barajas batted .249 with 11 homers and 49 RBI.

"We had a chemistry," Barajas said. "There wasn't too much shaking (off signs). It seemed like he believed in what I was doing behind the plate, and I believed in him executing pitches. We both knew he was capable of throwing a no-hitter on any day. We put together a great season."

In 2009, Burnett signed with the Yankees as a free agent. Barajas spent another year with the Blue Jays, then played for the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Even after he left Toronto for New York, we constantly had conversations," Barajas said. "He's a joy to be around. He brings good energy. I think he's going to fit in well here."

Nearly full house

Reliever Chris Resop and catcher Ramon Cabrera were the only players who missed the opening spring training workout Sunday.

Resop has the stomach flu. Cabrera, who flew in from Venezuela, missed a connecting flight on Saturday and did not arrive in Bradenton until Sunday night.

Although they do not have to report until the end of the week, most of the position players already are in camp.

Morton on the mend

Right-hander Charlie Morton, who had hip surgery in October, is working out without restrictions, manager Clint Hurdle said.

Huntington said Morton's rehab "has gone about as well as we could've expected. We still have some hurdles to (clear). Charlie's been (throwing) off the mound. Now it's just a matter of building up the arm strength properly."

Morton participated in fielding drills yesterday and is slated to throw a bullpen session Monday.

Back online

Reliever Jason Grilli has a big following on Twitter, where he dishes out wry observations under the handle @GrillCheese49. He admits he didn't tweet very often this winter, however.

"I'm not as interesting in the offseason," Grilli said. "What should I say, 'I'm doing my honey-do list?' Everybody else is doing theirs, too."

Photo Galleries

Pirates Spring Training 2012

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Photos from 2012 Spring Training in Bradenton Florida.

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