12/09/08 11:41 PM EST
Yanks in business, on the Strip and off
Burnett a major target as Sabathia chase heads to San Francisco
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Prepared to move forward on other fronts, the Yankees highlighted Day 2 of the Winter Meetings by meeting with the representative for their second target, A.J. Burnett, and concluded business with general manager Brian Cashman departing the Bellagio hotel for San Francisco for a third meeting with Sabathia.
With teams circling his client, Burnett's agent, Darek Braunecker, acknowledged that "just overall, the process is starting to advance," and reported that he was planning to meet with the Yankees for a second successive day.
The Yankees do not appear fazed by the Braves' interest in Burnett, with Atlanta prepared to supply Burnett with a four-year, $60 million contract containing a vesting option for the 2013 season.
In fact, the Yankees may even be primed to top that dollar amount by surpassing the annual value of the pact. Though no official offer has been made, club executives are drawing up scenarios in which they could move on to keep Burnett from going to Atlanta, especially if Sabathia does not select New York.
Until one domino falls, there is little else the organization can do but watch, reach out and wait.
"I think once someone goes, you'll see it maybe pick up a little bit," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees have been initially reluctant to discuss a five-year contract for Burnett, who has spent the equivalent of 3 1/2 years of his Major League career on the disabled list.
But they have also identified Burnett as their first choice behind Sabathia, especially if the left-hander really is lukewarm toward pitching in New York and prefers the West Coast. Braunecker said that a winning club is among Burnett's most important ingredients in a suitor.
"He's 31 years old. He's been in the league now for nine years," Braunecker said. "He got a real taste of what winning and success was all about when he went on those couple of runs in Toronto this year. Now he understands how much fun winning is. That's one of the primary criteria that he's looking for from his next employer."
Braunecker also met with the Braves earlier in the afternoon, and though he rejected a perception that key free agents will not sign until Sabathia moves to set the market, he said it is "unlikely" that Burnett will sign before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday.
"None of this is contingent on what CC or anybody else does," Braunecker said. "If the right deal presents itself from the right club, we'll be prepared to act."
Speaking in general terms, Braunecker said, "We're anticipating something additionally may happen today with another club that's at least kind of kept a toe in the water.
"Their interest is contingent on something else that they've got working. If that falls apart, we anticipate them coming in and probably making this a really interesting situation over the next 24 hours. It might not happen. It might not materialize."
Pitching in the American League East for the Blue Jays, Burnett gave the Yankees plenty to consider this year, as he dominated them with a 3-1 record and 1.64 ERA in five starts. In Burnett's final outing of the year, he limited the Yankees to one earned run and struck out 11 over eight innings.
|"He understands how much fun winning is. That's one of the primary criteria that he's looking for from his next employer."|
|-- Agent Darek Braunecker, on A.J. Burnett|
"I have not sat down and talked to A.J., so I don't have a sense of necessarily how he would do," Girardi said. "I know he pitches well every time I've seen him come to New York, so that makes me believe that he would be OK."
Girardi also said that Sabathia should have a good understanding of what life would be like if he takes the Yankees' offer. The logistics of residing in the tri-state area were a topic of discussion in the Yankees' meeting with Sabathia on Sunday, when Reggie Jackson was utilized as a primary pitchman.
"CC has pitched in New York in a playoff situation on the Indians," Girardi said. "He's been in the American League long enough to know what New York is about. CC's personality, I think, would work very well in New York. He's a guy who wants the ball every fifth day, a stand-up guy and an honest young man."
There has been little progress with negotiations for left-hander Andy Pettitte, who remains approximately $6 million apart in talks of a one-year deal with New York. But Girardi said he spoke to Pettitte a little more than a week ago and still has "that feeling that he's going to be a Yankee next year."
In other developments, catcher Jorge Posada completed his second day of a throwing program at 60 feet, and Girardi said that the Yankees could look to procure a journeyman catcher in Spring Training -- as they did in March with Chad Moeller -- just in case Posada's rehab doesn't go as expected.
Some 2,500 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip, carpeting is being installed at the new Yankee Stadium, whose bright blue letters are already illuminating the Bronx sky at night. Girardi said the Yankees are more than ready to bring in potential players for a sneak preview of the new ballpark -- the only remaining task is figuring out which free agents are ready to give it a serious look.
"I think that if you come in and take a look at our new park and the amenities, I think as players, you're going to want to play there," Girardi said. "I think it's a big selling point."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.