AJ for Clint Robinson would make sense

KC's Clint Robinson

AJ Burnett trade rumors are in no short supply.  We’ve heard Pittsburgh and Seattle as possible scenarios but Dan Martin of the NY Post brought up the Kansas City Royals today.  Martin says  “the Pirates and Royals among the teams most actively looking into acquiring Burnett.”

To me the Royals are an intriguing possible trade partner because they have what the Yankees are looking for in return – hitters, more to the point young hitters.  We know the Yanks sought lefty DH/OF Garrett Jones from Pittsburgh and were supposedly re-buffed, so who would make sense to get back in return from KC?

I wrote about the perfect fit Billy Butler would be a couple of weeks ago, but he would require much more than AJ (think Betances and more) and there is no way KC would part with their young lefty hitters, 1B Eric Hosmer or OF Alex Gordon.  However, the Royals have a player in AAA ready for the big leagues but is blocked by the aforementioned Butler, Hosmer & Gordon – his name is Clint Robinson.

Robinson, 26, is a 6’5″ 235 pound lefty hitting 1B/DH who has nothing more to prove in the minor leagues. In 2010, he won the AA Triple Crown with a .335-29-98 line that included a .410 OBP & .625 SLG. Promoted to AAA in 2011, he kept hitting, posting a .326-23-100 line with a .399/.533/.932 OPS.  He was drafted in the 25th round in 2007 and is not considered a big time prospect because of his draft position, relatively modest stats in A ball and lack of defensive skills.   But through hard work and back to back monster years, he’s ready for prime time. I should temper the expectations a little with the disclaimer that the numbers put up in 2011 were in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.  However, the guy can obviously hit.

KC Director of Minor League Operations Scott Sharp was quoted on MILB.com regarding Robinson:

“An offensive force,” Sharp said. “Left-handed power with tremendous ability to use the entire field. He has patience at the plate and good strike-zone discipline. He continues to improve defensively and has taken some reps in left field.”

That is what clinched it for me.  He’s not just a masher but a guy with power who uses the whole field, has patience and knows the strike zone.  He struck out just 88 times in 561PAs in 2011 and 86 times in 535 PAs in 2010.  Robinson would be a great candidate for Left-handed DH platoon as he destroyed RHP last yr to the tune of a .330 batting average and  .418/.561/.979 split.

I think if the Yanks ate $23-25M of Burnett’s salary, they could definitely expect to get Robinson in return.  KC has floated his name around this Winter in trade talks since teams know he can hit but they simply don’t have a spot for him.  They do however, have a glaring need for a veteran pitcher who can eat innings.  The Royals have a lot of talented young pitchers but they will be babied and can’t be counted on to supply 180-200 IP.  AJ could soak up innings while the kids grow and would probably be more comfortable in Kansas City since it’s close to his native Arkansas.

Some fans have mentioned the Yanks should give Jorge Vazquez a shot at the DH for his performance in AAA. Problem is JoVa’s right-handed, strikes out a ton, doesn’t walk or hit for average and is 30 yrs old. Robinson is 26/27, lefty, controls the zone and hits for average and power. I really think he would be a good fit.  What do you guys think?

About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on February 10, 2012, in Signing & Trade Speculation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. someone who i never heard of but he has great stats. He wasn’t even in Keith Law’s Top 10 for prospects in KC’s organization.

    • He wasn’t on MLB’s list either that just came out in the last week.

    • Yeah, he’s not considered a great prospect for the reasons I mentioned. He was a late rd draft pick, a late bloomer who had 2 bad yrs before the last 2 monster yrs at higher levels and is considered mostly a DH. He was ranked 18th in the KC system by someone prominent…….Kevin Goldstein maybe?

      In any event, the Royals have one of the Top 3 Farm Systems in al of baseball also so this guy gets overlooked. Actually its better he isn’t highly rated because if he was he would never be a possibiity in a trade for AJ.

  2. Fishjam, sounds like it from your article. From my perspective, almost anyone the Yankees could get in exchange for Burnett would be music to my ears. My only caveat is I’m not particularly big on just trading bad contracts. Other then that I say go for it.

  3. How would you like to be this kid Robinson is this were to happen. One day your a prospect on the Royals organization the next your on the Yankees roster.

  4. The Orioles make more sense, AJ is from maryland, they need veteran pitching, trade him to the O’s for Ryan Flaherty to replace eric chavez who if he doesnt stick with the O’s has to be sent back to the cubs

    • Flaherty is an interesting player but he hasn’t performed above AA yet so I don’t know if he’d stick with the team for the full year in order to keep him as a Rule 5 Pick. I think Robinson could come right in and hir RHP as DH. And you’ll have the option to send him to AAA if he gets beat out by Branyan or another veteran in ST.

    • I’m anxiously waiting for the tweet that says the deals been done (AJ for Garrett Jones) the Yankees have agreed to eat $24MM of AJ’s $33MM salary over the next 2 seasons.

    • If this deal by the grace of God does go through. I bet AJ never would have figured in a million years that he might be pitching in Pittsburgh. He never would have or could have imagined that the Yankees would be willing to eat a substantial chunk of his salary just to make him leave town.

  5. This is the recent info. on Yankees/Pirates trade:

    Yankees, Pirates Talking A.J. Burnett Trade
    By Ben Nicholson-Smith [February 10 at 3:47pm CST]
    3:47pm: The Pirates appear to be willing to absorb $10MM in a trade, Heyman tweets. The Yankees have been pushing for an even split and seek an OK prospect in return. Heyman tweets that the chances of a deal remain “decent.”

  6. The Yankees are nuts that they are taking this deal. But hey if they get them to sucker in to 12 million then why not.

  7. Matt, when I check ESPN.com. They have a headline on the rumors section about:

    Could Baltimore or Queens end up as a home for the righthander? For AJ

    Are there any details?

    • here you go…..

      ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney wonders if the Yankees might consider sending Burnett across town to the New York Mets for Jason Bay in a trade of bad contracts. Bay is owed $35 million over the next two years.

      • No, no, no. That was my last option for moving AJ. Besides he’s a righty.

      • Matt, I think talks are going in all sorts of directions with for AJ. Here’s what I just saw on MLBTR:
        Yankees, Pirates Talking A.J. Burnett Trade
        By Ben Nicholson-Smith [February 10 at 9:50pm CST]
        9:50pm: Talks were ongoing as of Friday evening, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and do not include Garrett Jones. Brink adds that Bucs are more receptive to taking on salary than moving a player or prospect.

        Wouldn’t surprise me if the Yankees are using the possibility of the Mets deals to spur the Pirates to action.

  8. Yes folks, it was I that made the stupid suggestion of using Jorge Vazquez as the DH.
    Sorry about that, had a brain freeze I guess!
    One thing to remember about this whole trading thing…AJ will be moved…for whom, for how much in return and to which team is anyones guess. Have faith in Cashman, so far, he has done good for the team. We may not get the player (if any) we may want but, we will get the best deal Cashman can put together. 🙂

  9. Imagine if the Yankees could convince the Pirates to take on $14MM of AJ’s salary based on their 42% luxury tax percentage that’s effectively a $20MM savings for the Yankees over 2 years.

  10. Haven’t followed everything on AJ today but this is how I interpret whats going on. Please correct me if I’m wrong:

    1) Pirates and possibly other teams are OK with paying around $5M per yr for AJ but do not want to include any players in return, just giving the Yanks $10M in salary relief

    2) The Yanks are saying if we pick up all that money, we want someone good back…..Garrett Jones or a solid minor-leaguer.

    3) If you want a straight salary dump with no players of consequence going to the Yankees, Cashman wants closer to a 50-50 split, or $16-18M in salary relief.

    Sounds like a good sign to me just hope Cashman doesn’t overplay his hand. I’ll take $10-12M in salary relief with nothing back in return. Then use that $5-6M to trade some minor-lg pitching and/or MLB releif for a nice young bat…..Headley tops my list.

    • Fishjam – I think that’s close. My take is:
      1) I think the Pirates are the only team right now willing to pick up some of AJ’s salary. It seems like about $5MM per if the Yankees want anything in return, they are not willing to give up anyone remotely “decent”. But it appears they may be willing to pick up more of AJ’s salary then the $5MM per (how much more is the question) and NOT throw in any player(s) period.


      2) I think the Yankees initial starting point was they wanted a team to pick up 50% of AJ’s salary. But I think they have come to realize that wasn’t going to happen.

      Bottom line, It looks to me like the Yankees want about $12MM in total salary relief to dump AJ. And if they can get it they will move on.

      There were rumors last night of the Yankees and Mets discussing purely a bad contract exchange (AJ/Jason Bay). But I think that was just a “red herring” to spur talks on with the Pirates. I think both the Yankees and the Pirates really want to do this deal it’s just a matter of both teams feeling like they didn’t give up to much to make it happen. I wouldn’t be surprised to read in the next 24 to 48 hours that a deal has been struck where all the Yankees get is salary relief and no players. That’s just my opinion from everything I’ve seen so far.

      Stay tuned, I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of this.

    • BTW, I think if the Yankees do just get salary relief. They use a portion of that relief just to sign Ibanez and Chavez then they are done for this off season.

      I think your idea of a trade for Headley would be great I’m just not sure who the Yankees would be willing to give up to the Padres to make it happen. WHO DO YOU THINK THEY WOULD HAVE TO PART WITH?

      • UYF – Haven’t thought about what SD would want in return but they are a team with a great farm system and rebuilding MLB roster. I’d be willing to give up Betances for him or maybe a package of minor lgrs. Maybe they’d want Hughes for Headley but I doubt it.

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