Yankees and Pirates “in agreement” on A.J. Burnett trade

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It looks like the A.J. Burnett saga may finally be coming to a close, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Yankees and Pirates are “in agreement” on a deal that will send the right-hander to Pittsburgh.

Burnett is expected to undergo a physical exam Sunday to make things official and according to Rosenthal the Yankees are eating about $20 million of the $33 million remaining on his contract over the next two seasons.

In return New York will receive a pair of minor leaguers, neither of whom are expected to be significant prospects, but by trading Burnett the Yankees save $13 million and open up a rotation spot for Freddy Garcia or Phil Hughes.

Burnett, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with New York in 2009, had a 4.79 ERA in 98 starts for the Yankees after posting a 3.73 ERA in 131 starts for the Marlins and a 3.94 ERA in 80 starts for the Blue Jays.

UPDATE: Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that the two prospects going to the Yankees are 25-year-old reliever Diego Moreno and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones, neither of whom are considered more than marginal prospects.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.