This weekend, we heard speculation that the Cleveland Indians might be involved in the trade talks with the Yankees regarding right-handed starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. Joel Sherman had floated the idea that the Indians could trade DH Travis Hafner to clear payroll for Burnett, and Stephanie Liscio had suggested that Cleveland could trade Hafner for Burnett straight-up.
On Monday, I dismissed the idea of trading Hafner for Burnett (whether directly or indirectly) as foolish for the Indians; given the Tribe’s great pitching depth and the lack of same at DH, it didn’t make sense for to Cleveland to make such a swap it probably wouldn’t bring the team any salary relief. And that was before the Indians signed Jon Garland.
Yankees/indians talk revolves around aj and travis hafner. cleve unsure it would do that swap. yanks also don’t mind the FA DH options
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 14, 2012
To be fair, Heyman makes it clear that the Indians aren’t sure about whether the deal is worth it. But that they’re seriouslt considering it is disconcerting.
Who do the Indians expect to use at DH if Hafner’s gone? Shelley Duncan? Russ Canzler? Perhaps they would requisition one of Jason Kipnis or Carlos Santana‘s gloves, thus robbing either player of his great positional value.
Would A.J. Burnett even have a spot on this team? Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe, and Josh Tomlin seem to be all but guaranteed slots in the rotation. Would Burnett really be that much better than Jon Garland or Kevin Slowey or Jeanmar Gomez or David Huff or Zach McAllister or Scott Barnes (all of whom are already in the mix for the final rotation spot)? Setting aside the margin, would he even be the best choice from that group?
Burnett wouldn’t make this team that much better, and losing Hafner would make it a whole lot worse. To make this deal would be trading from a weakness to add unnecessary strength; let’s hope the front office realizes that before it’s too late.
UPDATE: Some good news:
A.J. Burnett to Indians for Travis Hafner was indeed discussed, but no longer on the table, MLB.com has learned.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) February 14, 2012