Should Cards Pursue A.J. Burnett?

Viva El Birdos has a well thought-out discussion of the prospect of the Cardinals trading Chris Duncan for A.J. Burnett.  I have a few thoughts to add.

In my opinion Burnett effectively has a one-year deal, only worse.  That’s because he has the ability to opt out after the 2008 season.  So one of two things will happen:

1. Burnett is healthy enough to pitch 170+ innings, opts out, and secures a four-year deal somewhere.

2. Burnett is not healthy enough to pitch 150 innings and chooses to accept the $24MM owed to him over the 2009-10 time period (I consider 150-170 innings a gray area).  If a team trades for Burnett, endures an injury-plagued ’08, and is then saddled with further burden, that’s worse than a straight-up one-year commitment like Jon Garland‘s. 

My other thought is that Duncan is not a fit for the Jays.  They’re locked in with Lyle Overbay at first and Frank Thomas at DH.  Between Adam Lind, Travis Snider, and Alex Rios, the outfield corners are covered.  The Jays’ biggest need is a shortstop, also a need of the Cardinals.  I suppose Duncan could be part of a three-way deal. 

A takeaway, as noted at VEB, is that Burnett may well be the one available pitcher with #1 potential not named Johan Santana.  Another good point of theirs – he’s probably worth $12 mil as a 165 inning pitcher.


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