Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was a crucial factor in A.J. Burnett signing with the Blue Jays back in 2005 (that, and the money). Arnsberg had been Burnett’s pitching coach in Florida.
Burnett has two years and $24MM left on his contract, but he has the right to opt out after the season and become a free agent. The FAN 590′s Jerry Howarth recently spoke to Arnsberg about Burnett. Arnsberg’s heart says Burnett will stay in Toronto. Burnett’s wife loves it there. Arnsberg had multiple heart-to-heart conversations with Burnett discussing the pitcher’s future, and leans toward Burnett returning. Arnsberg speculates that it could take another year on the contract to bring him back.
Burnett’s had a fine season, tying his career high with 32 starts. He’s also established a career best with 214 strikeouts. He leads all of MLB with 3388 pitches thrown, but has not reached 120 pitches in any start. He could be looking at four years and $60MM on the free agent market, possibly more.