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MLB Trade Rumors: A.J. Burnett Deal Potentially A Good Idea For Pirates

Fangraphs explains why trading for A.J. Burnett, for whom the Yankees no longer have any use, makes sense for the Pirates.

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By blindly trusting headlines, one would believe that Burnett is one of the worst pitchers in baseball. While he has struggled with the longball over the last couple of seasons — 12.9% HR/FB is the highest among AL pitchers since 2009 — his numbers are fairly decent over the last three seasons: averages of 195 IP, 7.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 71.6% LOB, 45.6% GB, 4.15 SIERA. He misses bats and keeps the ball on the ground.

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Right. Putting aside all those acronyms for a second, the broader point here is that Burnett is still a pretty good pitcher -- much better than a casual glance at his ERAs would lead you to believe -- who has a chance to look very good if moved to the N.L. Central and PNC Park. The Pirates rarely have access to pitchers this good in free agency.

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Burnett is relatively old, obviously, so he could completely collapse. But a number of Pirates fans this weekend compared him to Matt Morris. The difference is that Morris was pretty obviously fading when he was acquired. Once you look beyond his ERAs, Burnett really isn't. The devil's in the details, and I don't want the Pirates spending too much, but trading for him makes a lot of sense for the Bucs.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.