We began the day with A.J. Burnett, and we’ll end with the day with him. Courtesy of the soon-to-be-on-vacation (but more on that tomorrow) Kat O’Brien comes a debunking of the A.J. Burnett rumor and news about another team’s interest.
The Yankees still are preparing a formal offer for righthanded pitcher A.J. Burnett, a club official said yesterday, but the Red Sox have become serious competitors to land him.
The Red Sox’s pursuit of Burnett complicates the Yankees’ plans. A source close to Burnett said that a half-dozen teams are in contention for his services: the Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Braves, Phillies and Orioles. The Red Sox, the source said, have significantly increased their involvement in the pitcher in the past 36 hours and are now “fully engaged.”
The Blue Jays already have offered a four-year, $54-million deal to retain Burnett, according to the Toronto Star. The Yankees’ offer is expected to top the Blue Jays’ in average annual value. However, a source shot down a report that the Yankees would offer five years and $80 million. They will not make an opening bid of more than four years or anywhere near $80 million, the source said.
The Yankees’ source said, “We’re just talking parameters.”
That’s a lot to digest. Take it all in.
First, the good news. The Yankees don’t seem to be offering Burnett that ludicrous five-year, $80-million offer reported this morning. As any sensible team would do, the Yanks don’t want to extend a pitcher, 32 on Opening Day, more than four years. While O’Brien’s source said the deal wasn’t for anything close to $80 million, I wouldn’t be surprised at a four-year deal with the same average annual value of $16 million per season.
Now, the guardedly bad news. The Red Sox seem to be interested in Burnett and are supposedly very involved. Now, I’m on the fence with regards to A.J. Burnett. I think he’ll be wildly overpaid, and based on his track record, he probably won’t avoid the DL during the duration of the contract he is going to sign.
But at the same time, we saw this year what a healthy Burnett could do. He struck out better than a man an inning, and during the second half, he went 8-2 with a 2.86 ERA. In 14 starts, he went 94.1 innings and struck out 105 while walking 29. No one on the Yankees did that this year.
He has the stuff to be an ace. He doesn’t have the consistency or the health to be a dependable starter. But that doesn’t mean I want to see him land in Boston. Yanks GM Brian Cashman has a plan this off-season. I hope that plan doesn’t include watching the Red Sox get better as the Yanks come up empty and have to settle for a Derek Lowe type. As tentative I am of embracing Burnett, he’s clearly the second-best option out there.