Multiple outlets are reporting that free agent A.J. Burnett and the Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a one-year deal worth $16 million. The move comes a couple weeks after speculation surfaced that Burnett was eying another year of professional baseball, presumably for an east coast team. Burnett makes his home in nearby Maryland, so there was a short list of potential suitors for the 37-year-old. Other teams originally mentioned in the rumor mill were the Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and, of course, the Pittsburgh Pirates as mentioned in an earlier article.
After the 2013 season ended, Burnett had been on record via a radio interview stating that he’d either retire or end his career as a Pirates player. Disappointingly to Pirates fans, the Buccos failed to make Burnett a $14.1 million qualifying offer that would have tied his departure to draft pick compensation. Instead the team reportedly only offered a one-year, $8 million deal that would ultimately be rejected by Burnett.
Burnett is coming off of a career year in 2013 with the Pirates in which he posted a second-highest season total in strikeouts (209) and a career-low ERA (3.30 – tied 2002). Additionally, Burnett’s SO/9 total was 9.8 in 2013, up from 8.0 in 2012. Burnett boasts a career 3.99 ERA in 15 big league seasons and has one of the better K/9 statistics (8.3) of any current starting pitcher. Burnett has struggled in the postseason, however, most notably last year with the Pirates having a disastrous NLDS which saw him give up seven runs in 2.0 innings.
With the addition of Burnett, the Phillies will now boast one of the better starting rotations in all of baseball with Burnett joining the likes of Cole Hamels (after returning from injury), Cliff Lee and Kyle Hendrick.
Vinny Gala is a writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.