NEW YORK ó The Yankees and Pirates are close to a trade that would send pitcher A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers.
Pittsburgh agreed it would pay $13 million of the $33 million salary due the right-hander for 2012 and 2013, a person familiar with the negotiations said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made. The sides still were working on the payment schedule for the amount the Yankees would cover, the person said.
Once the agreement is reached, it must be approved by Commissioner Bud Selig because of the cash involved.
New York is likely to use the money saved to sign a designated hitter, with Raul Ibanez appearing to be its first choice.
A 35-year-old right-hander, Burnett has gone 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA during three seasons with New York, including 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA last year. His average of 3.98 walks per nine innings was second in the AL and fifth in the majors during that span among pitchers with 400 or more innings, according to STATS LLC.
Burnett became superfluous when the Yankees acquired Michael Pineda from Seattle in a trade and agreeing to a one-year deal with free agent Hiroki Kuroda. They joined holdovers CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia.
In Pittsburgh Burnett would join a rotation that includes newly signed Erik Bedard and returnees James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens. Charlie Morton is recovering from hip surgery in October. When Morton is available, Karstens could return to the bullpen and spot starts.
Notes: Reliever Hideki Okajima has been released from his minor league contract with the Yankees after failing his physical, a person familiar with the decision said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Yankees did not make an announcement. A 36-year-old left-hander, Okajima agreed with the Yankees in December, and the team announced the deal Feb. 8. He was 1-0 with a 4.32 ERA in 8 1-3 innings over seven relief appearances for Boston last year, and 8-1 with a 2.29 ERA in 34 relief appearances at Triple-A Pawtucket. An All-Star as a rookie in 2007, he is 17-8 with a 3.11 ERA and six saves in five major league seasons.
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