As fans, we always like to propose trades as if we’re acting GM’s. We love flooding airwaves, posting on blogs and message boards about potential trade possibilities. This week a caller phoned into WFAN (The Mets flagship and all-sports radio station) and proposed a unique trade that might benefit both New York squads: A.J. Burnett of the Yankees for the Mets Jason Bay.

Just maybe this proposal has legs, as a change in ballparks could benefit both greatly.

As Mets fans, we are fully aware of Bay’s struggles while trying to adapt to Citi Field. The perennial 30-home run 100+ RBI slugger with the Pirates and the Red Sox has been anything but with the Mets. Bay has battled numerous slumps, long power droughts, angry fans and one nasty concussion which has in turn been met with mediocre results.

Bay is on quite the tear right now, though. Bay is 22 for 53 in his last 14 games with three home runs and 10 RBI’s. Despite this hot stretch, Bay has still underachieved in his time with the Mets.

Give credit to Bay for sticking it out, never quitting and always hustling. Bay never makes excuses and always gives it his all. If one thing, he is a great teammate.

Now let’s explore A. J. Burnett.

After signing a lucrative deal with the Yankees after the 2008 season, Burnett has experienced more ups and downs than an elevator.

Burnett had a strong first season with the Yankees, as he was a key component in the team winning the World Series. Burnett finished 2009 with a 13-9 record and a decent 4.04 ERA. Since then, Burnett has struggled by going 18-24 in the next two seasons.

Now there is talk of Burnett being bumped from the Yankees’ rotation. In fact, most Yankee fans are pushing for it.

It seems natural that a flyball pitcher like Burnett would benefit from pitching in Citi Field. Similarly, Bay would love hitting in the bandbox known as Yankee Stadium.

When it comes to contracts, they both line up to make a trade feasible. Burnett has two years left on a five-year $82.5 million contract, while Bay also has two years left on a four-year $66 million contract with a $17 million option for 2013 that comes with a $3 million buyout.

And they are close in age, as Bay is 32 and Burnett is 34.

So, this is as even as a swap goes.

The thing is, if you were to do this deal who would you bump from the rotation if you were the Mets? With Johan Santana due back and Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee expected to be part of the rotation for years to come, what then do you do with Chris Capuano, Mike Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey?

If Sandy Alderson can’t trade Pelfrey in the offseason then you have to stick him somewhere, as he is under contract until 2013. Capuano is on a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with incentives, and word is that the Mets would like to bring him back. (BTW, Capuano has already earned $400,000 in incentives by making 22 starts thus far and surpassing 130 innings pitched). Dickey is also under contract for another year, with an option for 2013.

So, while this may be a fair swap, the slightest upgrade that Burnett might give you instead of Pelfrey or Capuano, it is still probably not enough to pull the trigger.

Besides, the Mets are also toying with the idea of bringing in the fences, and that can only help Bay in the long run. Combine this with Bay’s workman like approach in the clubhouse and the need to get younger in the rotation anyway, and this ‘what if’ deal that should be met with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ response.

3 comments on “Would a Jason Bay for A.J. Burnett trade make sense?

  • Brian Joura

    This is a really interesting idea.

    First off, Bay has a full no-trade clause and Burnett has a limited NTC (10 teams), so this would have to be addressed.

    Also, Bay has an easily reached vesting option for 2014, where he would be paid $17 million and that has to enter into the thought process.

    Pelfrey is on a year-to-year basis and while the Mets control his rights, they are under no contractual obligation to him for 2012. They could non-tender him and save over $4 million. Capuano is on a one-year deal and may not be back next season. In his last nine games, Gee has a 5.61 ERA and the club is 3-6 when he starts.

    The Mets need to upgrade their pitching. The question is if they want to sink that much into Burnett. If I was the Mets, I would do this trade. Burnett is pretty durable, I think he would benefit by the switch in parks and switch in leagues. And getting out from the option year in Bay’s contract, which he reaches with 600 PAs in 2013 or 500 PAs in both 2012 and 2013, is an important consideration, too.

    Last thing – when looking at Burnett’s contract, I found this clause in the deal he signed with the Blue Jays in December of 2005:

    deal includes 8 round-trip limousine trips per season between Toronto & Burnett’s Maryland home for his wife.

    Not sure what that means, but I think it deserves mention…

  • Mike Koehler

    One word: NO.
    I don’t want any part of A.J. Burnett. I don’t want his $16.5 million salary lasting through 2013. I don’t want his 4+ ERA. I don’t want his inconsistency. I don’t want an older pitcher who never harnessed it completely in his prime.

    At least with Big Pelf he’s homegrown, cheap, young and shown flashes of greatness. While I doubt he’ll ever be more than a middle of the rotation guy, he’s better than Burnett for the other three reasons and the simple fact that we don’t have to give up anything to get him.

    This team is going to have a surge of pitching prospects come up within a few years. Why burden the team with long contracts of older players with such excitement on the rise?

  • Mike Koehler

    Dan, suddenly you look like a genius for proposing this before it became popular. Congrats.

    As far as my opinion, I’m not sure where I stand anymore. Bay clearly didn’t put it all together this year, but he looked a little less shaky towards the end. Burnett continues to baffle everyone and he could only possibly benefit from a league/park change. Bay’s option for an extra year isn’t looking particularly great though…

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