While the A.J. Burnett trade talks between the Yankees and Pirates keep chugging along Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports that the Yankees had a deal in place to send him to the Angels for Bobby Abreu … but Burnett used his no-trade clause to block the move.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier this week that the Yankees and Indians talked about a Burnett-for-Travis Hafner swap at some point, so New York being interested in Abreu as a different veteran designated hitter option makes some sense.
Abreu is part of the Angels’ logjam of bats and is due $9 million this season (compared to $16.5 million over the next two seasons for Burnett). His production has declined significantly in his late-30s, but he still drew plenty of walks, got on base at a .353 clip, and stole 21 bases last year. It’s a moot point, however, as the Angels are one of 10 teams to which Burnett can veto a trade and various reports suggest he’ll wind up on the Pirates.
As for why a player would block a deal to the Angels but not the Pirates, Burnett’s wife is from Maryland and has a fear of flying.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.