Phillies Sign A.J. Burnett

SUNDAY, 9:27am: Burnett's player option for 2015, which starts at $7.5MM, could potentially reach $12.75MM, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. 

8:56am: Burnett can also earn $1.75MM in performance bonuses each year, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  

8:34am: Burnett's 2014 salary is actually $15MM, though it will come out to $16MM if the Phillies exercise his $1MM buyout, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). If the option is exercised, he'll earn $15MM in '15.  If the team declines, he can trigger a $7.5MM option for '15. His limited no-trade protection will allow the veteran to name nine teams that he can be traded to (link).

8:03am: The Phillies announced the deal.  Within the press release, the Phillies disclosed that the deal includes a mutual/player option for 2015, performance and award bonuses, and a limited no-trade clause.

WEDNESDAY, 6:53pm: The contract may actually include a player option for 2015, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who explains that the final details are still being negotiated.

4:51pm: The deal includes a mutual option for 2015 as well as a limited no-trade clause, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. The option value has not yet been reported.

10:53am: The Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $16MM deal with A.J. Burnett, reports Hayden Balgavy of THV 11 in Arkansas (Twitter links). Burnett is represented by Frontline Athlete Management.

Burnett-AJ-2

Burnett's future was shrouded in mystery for much of the offseason, as he took considerably longer than originally expected to determine whether he would pitch in 2014 or retire. He said near season's end that he was "50-50" on the decision and added that if he pitched again, he would do so in a Pirates' uniform. Clearly that line of thinking changed, perhaps when Pittsburgh declined to make him a $14.1MM qualifying offer. Given his $16MM guarantee from the Phillies, it's also possible that the Pirates simply knew they wouldn't be able to afford Burnett (that would explain their early signing of Edinson Volquez). Burnett earned $16.5MM in 2013, but Pittsburgh was only on the hook for $8MM of that total, as the Yankees paid a large portion of his salary when trading him to the Pirates prior to the 2012 campaign.

In Pittsburgh, Burnett revitalized a career that looked to be on its downswing following the second and third seasons of a five-year, $82.5MM contract he signed with the Yankees in the 2008-09 offseason. Burnett posted a 5.20 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 3777 innings from 2010-11 with New York, prompting GM Brian Cashman to trade him to Pittsburgh in exchange for salary relief and a pair of marginal prospects (Exicardo Cayones and Diego Moreno).

The Pirates paid Burnett just $13MM from 2012-13 and were rewarded for their leap of faith, as Burnett turned in an outstanding 3.41 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 393 1/3 innings. His ground-ball rate soared to 56.7 percent in that two-year span, tying him with Justin Masterson for the second-best mark in all of baseball among qualified starters (Trevor Cahill was first).

While it's a surprise to see the Phillies sign Burnett, it's not a surprise to see general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal that few would have anticipated early in the offseason. Amaro himself said early on that he would try to be creative in seeking significant upgrades that few would expect. This isn't the first time he's inked an unexpected free agent either. When Cliff Lee signed his five-year, $125MM contract in Philadelphia, most of the baseball world was anticipating that he would end up with either the Yankees or the Rangers.

Burnett will add to a Phillies rotation that is fronted by Lee and Cole Hamels, slotting in as a strong No. 3 option behind that pair of ace-caliber southpaws. Kyle Kendrick should hold down the fourth slot, while fellow offseason signee Roberto Hernandez and Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonazlez figure to battle for the final spot in manager Ryne Sandberg's rotation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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182 Comments on "Phillies Sign A.J. Burnett"


FS54
1 year 6 months ago

ugh, I thought they were out. Wish Nats could have signed him! I had my bullpen and depth all worked out with AJ’s signing.

charles
1 year 6 months ago

and boom goes the dynimate

twins33
1 year 6 months ago

Without knowing the dollars, this is probably a great deal. If it’s for 16M or less than it’s definitely a great deal. I would have loved him on the Twins, but I knew that was not going to happen.

Meh Sheep
1 year 6 months ago

Report is that it is for 16M.

twins33
1 year 6 months ago

Thanks. Good deal. It’s what he’s worth in my opinion, not an overpay.

SocraticGadfly
1 year 6 months ago

It’s horrible. His 2013 was a fluke, His 2.8 FIP was the only time in his career he’s
been below 3.1 Can you say “regression”?

twins33
1 year 6 months ago

Even if he regressed to 2012 level of production, I wouldn’t call it “horrible.” He’d, to me, then be overpaid by a couple million dollars, but it wouldn’t be horrible. If he puts up 4 ERA with 4 FIP then yeah, it would be horrible.

For what he’s done in the last two seasons combined, he’s worth his paycheck. He has to repeat similar production to either of those seasons though. I’m confident he could put up 2012 numbers again, but it’s never a guarantee. The bigger issue is, how much will the move from the Pirates to the Phillies hurt him? The Phils are a worse team and it’s a less friendly ballpark. He’ll take a hit, but I don’t think 2012 numbers are completely out of the question.

Guest
1 year 6 months ago

O’s Magic prevails again. We should have thrown $20M to Burnett on a 1 year deal.

Chioakcisco
1 year 6 months ago

This might make Burnett the youngest guy on the team.

BrettLawriesnewesttattoo
1 year 6 months ago

the only thing older than the Phillies roster is jokes about how old they are.

BraveCrowe
1 year 6 months ago

Judging by the upvotes its gotten, still seems pretty popular.

ziggy13
1 year 6 months ago

That makes no sense though seeing as the jokes about the Phillies being old wouldn’t start until the Phillies were old

James O'Donnell
1 year 6 months ago

But he’s only 37. You have to assume this was their back-up plan once they realized they couldn’t convince Jamie Moyer to make a comeback.

FS54
1 year 6 months ago

Moyer was their original back-up plan to Old Hoss who likes his own twitter account too much to pitch again.

kcmark
1 year 6 months ago

Actually Nolan Ryan was first on the Phillies wish-list, but the Astros beat them to it.

Ben Pope
1 year 6 months ago

actually Sandy Koufax was first on the Phillies list lol.

b-rar
1 year 6 months ago

They stashed Jamie in the broadcast booth in case of emergency.

connfyoozed .
1 year 6 months ago

And, worst case scenario… they stashed Matt Stairs, too. I think I remember Stairs getting to pitch once in a blowout.

Angela Marie Greenawalt
1 year 6 months ago

Phillies you can thank the Bucs for being so damn cheap!!

BrettLawriesnewesttattoo
1 year 6 months ago

Ruben Amaro made a move that I can’t criticize… what am I going to do with my life?!?!

PhillyYank
1 year 6 months ago

Like pouring gasoline on a fire…

Muhamed Mashkulli
1 year 6 months ago

The Phillies make me confused

The_Porcupine
1 year 6 months ago

So does this push the player formerly known as Fausto out of the rotation or does it put Gonzalez into the minors? The team is still old and prone to breaking down, but this definitely makes them a contending team for a wild card. I’d still like to see them add an arm to the bullpen and a part time outfielder though.

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 months ago

MAG (Gonzalez) could go to the pen. IMO, it’s the best move. He’s on an MLB contract. You know what he can do against AAA talent (I’d equate Cuban talent to AAA), and his contract is “friendly” enough to be ok in the pen for a year.

The_Porcupine
1 year 6 months ago

To counter, I know what Hernandez can do if given a starting gig (close to a whole lot of nothing). Gonzalez at least gives upside.

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 months ago

Hernandez is a SABR dream. He looked improved last year (if you go by everything except his ERA). What killed him last year was his HR/FB rate (over 20%!). While he’s moving to a more hitter-friendly park, I cant imagine it stays that high again (his career rate is 13%). If that comes down – even to about 15% – I’d say he can put up respectable numbers for a #5 pitcher.

I think a lot will also depend on how MAG pitches in camp.

Phillies_Aces35
1 year 6 months ago

Gonzalez hasn’t pitched in two years on a regular basis, he’s not ready for a full season workload I would imagine. He’s going to be on an innings limit so might as well start him in the pen and build him up like the Braves did with Medlen a few years ago.

Dave Traverso
1 year 6 months ago

Hopefully Pettibone pushes Former Fausto out of the rotation, the guy is brutal

UltimateYankeeFan
1 year 6 months ago

I’m kind of surprised that he didn’t decide to go back to the Pirates. He pitched well in Pittsburgh and to be honest the Pirates are a much better team then the Phillies will be in 2014. I guess they may well have offered him more money and it was just more enticing for Burnett.

We’ll see if he has the same success in Philadelphia, considering it’s a much friendlier hitters park than Pittsburgh.

Lionel Bossman Craft
1 year 6 months ago

It’s crazy you say that since it seems just yesterday Philly was dominate and everyone penciled them to win the World Series and make the playoffs for years to win when they got Cliff Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hunter Pence. The Pirates on the other side of the coin were at the bottom of the NL. Talk about role reversal.

rct
1 year 6 months ago

Philly is closer to Burnett’s home than Pittsburgh is, just a short drive down I-95 (barring traffic, of course).

UltimateYankeeFan
1 year 6 months ago

True but Camden Yards (Orioles) is closer yet. Although Burnett might have had some difficulty passing the O’s physical.

LazerTown
1 year 6 months ago

And they gave him enough money where he can afford the $20 in tolls.

kcmark
1 year 6 months ago

And the $16MM should help with paying all of the tolls.

ztoa
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t know… Tolls will go up after the 100 car pile up this past week & law suits that’ll surely pop up over the speed limit mishap.

Catztradamus
1 year 6 months ago

when a guy stops throwing a cutter, increses his sinker % and develops a change up as an out pitch and consistently for two years increases his ground ball profile from 39 to 56% park factors don’t mean jack.

Burnett is a different pitcher. It had nothing to do with pitching in Pittsburgh.

Paulie Corleone
1 year 6 months ago

Have fun with near league worst defense behind you pitching in the park with the highest HR Factor last year….

Usually you hear about an athlete that just wants to win at all costs, Burnett is clearly the opposite.

You chase those dollars AJ

The_Porcupine
1 year 6 months ago

He wants to be near his home in Maryland. You decide which is closer to contending between the Orioles and Phillies.

Paulie Corleone
1 year 6 months ago

His choice, of course

That’s why I said to have fun

The_Porcupine
1 year 6 months ago

Its not just a cash grab.

dilbert719
1 year 6 months ago

To be perfectly honest, and it pains me to say this as a Phillies fan, the Pirates may closer than either.

bandits33
1 year 6 months ago

Orioles, not really close.

PhilsFan
1 year 6 months ago

I think the HR rate had more to do with the bad pitching.

And you don’t think he could have got more money going anywhere else? Come on.

Paulie Corleone
1 year 6 months ago

If the reports are true, I would say $16m would be near the top of the market for him

PhilsFan
1 year 6 months ago

He could have got a multi-year deal. He wouldn’t have limited his choices to teams in the east if he only cared about money.

SocraticGadfly
1 year 6 months ago

No, I don’t think he could have gotten more money elsewhere. His 2013 was a fluke, His 2.8 FIP was the only time in his career he’s
been below 3.1. I expect some serious regression from Burnett this year.

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 months ago

The “leagues worst defense” was helped along by the Young “brothers” last year (Michael at 3rd and Delmon in RF). While they’re not an amazing defense now, I’d say they’re about the middle of the pack. And the HR factor had to do with the sludge that they called up in August/September.

1 year 6 months ago

How dare someone with two World Series rings (albeit he didn’t play in one) think about money. It’s almost like these guys have families they want to ensure they can fully support with complete certainty. Money isn’t everything, but you can seldom blame a guy for taking more money to go elsewhere.

JamieFC
1 year 6 months ago

Obviously he’s chasing dollars. How naive can you get. Professional sports is just a business. Ninety-nine per cent of pro athletes will go where they make the most money. AJ already won a ring with Florida. He’s just going to pitch until he is no longer effective and get paid millions to do it and I don’t knock him for it.

Catztradamus
1 year 6 months ago

again, not sure how a 56% GB rate from a 48% GB rate and a 37% FB rate to a 24% FB rate while continuing to put up around A 10-12% hr/fb rate makes the park factors relevant

AmericanMovieFan
1 year 6 months ago

How the heck does Burnett keep getting $15MM+ per season!? If it really is for $16MM then wow…

PhilsFan
1 year 6 months ago

Scott Feldman got 30 million and 3 years. Pitching is expensive.

Seamaholic
1 year 6 months ago

That’s only 2.5 WAR. AJ can do that in his sleep.

Meh Sheep
1 year 6 months ago

AJ Burnett has only had 3 seasons in his career where his WAR was 2.5 or higher: 2009 = 4.4, 2005 = 3.4, 2002 = 4.0. His WAR for the last 4 years: 2013 = 1.7, 2012 = 2.2, 2011 = 0.8, 2010 = -0.8. So odds are it won’t be 2.5 or greater for 2014 sleeping or awake.

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 months ago

Difference of WAR. If you look at his rWAR, you’re right. His fWAR though, he’s been above 2.5 in 4 of the last 6 seasons (with 10 and 11 in NY the 2 seasons he was below it).

homer
homer
1 year 6 months ago

Great thing those statistics. There is a statistic for most anyone to show how good or bad any player is in the same sentence.

SocraticGadfly
1 year 6 months ago

His 2013 was a fluke, His 2.8 FIP was the only time in his career he’s
been below 3.1. On WAR? I’d be surprised if he has more than 1.5 this year. In fact, I expect him to be 1.2, or maybe even lower.

Nah__Roots
1 year 6 months ago

Welcome to the pitching market.

Phillyfan425
1 year 6 months ago

Very good move (especially with Hamels “missing” Opening Day – although it sounds like he’ll still pitch the first week). On one year deals, age isn’t an issue (especially for a guy coming off two of his better seasons). As long as he does what he did the last two years (K/9 over 8 and GB% above 50%) he should continue to be successful.

jury_rigger
1 year 6 months ago

$16 million down the drain, geriatric Phils wont compete

daveineg
1 year 6 months ago

Have to agree with that assessment. On the bright side, he’s another guy they could move in July to get younger. Burnett’s going to find going out that the p in PNC, stands for pitching and there is no p in Citizen’s.

Chiburgh
1 year 6 months ago

With Cole Hamels behind schedule and not being ready for opening day, the Phillies stepped in and upped their offer to AJ. Deal got done.

Philly isn’t NY, but they have some tough fans.

Dave Pierce
1 year 6 months ago

I never once believed he would retire, and never once believed it was Pirates or bust. Sure wish the Pirates played the Phillies more, it’s one of the biggest gaffes in baseball, an inter-state rivalry that only sees a handful of games due to separate divisions… This would have only made it a little more fun. See you in July, AJ. Thanks for 2 great years…

alexamato
1 year 6 months ago

wow crazy. good move Amaro!

sflomenb
1 year 6 months ago

Yes!! Great signing.