Everything about Nova—good fastball but weak secondary offerings and a tendency to stop fooling hitters in the middle innings seems to scream relief work. He might someday develop that solid extra pitch, but it’s a gamble, whereas a Jimenez (or another established pitcher) has already cleared that particular hurdle. I remain a strong believer in internal development and a youth movement for the Yankees, but I don’t believe in youth solely for youth’s sake—if that was a goal worth pursuing, you could bring up any kid from any level of the minors. No, the youngster has to be demonstrably better than what you currently have. Nova is better than Burnett right now, but in the long term he’s likely to be surpassed. He’s just not special, and when someone offers to trade you their best stuff for your everyday, average players, you jump. That’s how legendarily lopsided trades are born. Every deal is a gamble, but Nova is not one of those chips not likely to come back and bite them.
In short, when it comes to Nova, the Yankees need to use him (for Burnett) or lose him (for someone better than Burnett and himself).