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Burnett for Travis Hafner?

It’s hard not to love the idea of an A.J. Burnett for Travis Hafner deal with the Indians. Hafner has long been regarded as a disappointment because the late-bloomer quickly fell off of his 2004-2006 peak (.308/.419/.611) despite ample financial rewards from the Indians. Additionally, he never did have any defensive value—his nickname, "Pronk," derives from his being half-project, half-donkey—and he spends more than his share of time on disabled list. Since playing 152 games in 2007, he’s made it into only 363 games due to shoulder surgery and a wide variety of strains and inflammations.

I should add in as well that Hafner hasn’t done anything against left-handed pitching in years. From 2008 to present, he has hit only .237/.302/.366 against southpaws. The Yankees wouldn’t ask him to hit them, having Andruw Jones around for that purpose, but it doesn’t matter as the .274/.373/.460 he’s hit against right-handers in that time is still quite useful.

Contract-wise, Hafner is signed for this year and that will, no doubt about it, be bought out of a 2013 option. Total cost: $15.75 million. Burnett, as you no doubt have memorized by now, is going to make a guaranteed $33 million over this season and the next. The Yankees would have to eat some green to make all of this even out.

The Indians and Burnett make for an intriguing combination. Since CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee were traded out of town, the Indians have largely been bereft of starting pitchers who could whiff a batter. They have been below average in strikeout rate for years and are going to struggle again in that department this year, putting terrible pressure on their defense—and they just don’t have those kinds of gloves. Whatever Burnett’s other problems, he can still get batters to swing and miss. Ironically, he’s also a ground ball pitcher, so when not getting strikeout problems, he could exacerbate their problems. Or he could just be a punching bag again.

As for the Yankees, getting rid of Burnett and adding a one-year DH like Hafner would be more of a win than getting salary relief and some C-level prospects from the Pirates.