According to multiple reports, it’s the Philadelphia Phillies getting free agent starting pitcher A.J. Burnett on a one-year deal worth $16 million. Given the Phillies’ expected overall crumminess, whether or not Burnett received a no-trade clause is going to be of significant importance and interest around here. If not, he could be another arm on the market come July.
The Phillies, for their part, are doing their best to corner the market on aging players on a weak roster, but at least it’s just a one-year deal. If Burnett doesn’t become an eventual trade candidate, then the signing probably helps the Jeff Samardzija trade market slightly, given that the Phillies were never going to be in on Samardzija. In other words, Burnett to the Phillies takes an arm off the market without taking a suitor for Samardzija off of the market.
The Phillies also revealed today that Cole Hamels won’t be ready for Opening Day as he deals with shoulder issues that popped up in the offseason. No one seems to be interested in saying it’s serious, but he’ll miss a little time in April, at least. The Burnett signing will help a little, but, without a healthy and effective Hamels, the Phillies are looking even worse.
An aside to the signing: given that Burnett re-upped for one year and $16 million, the Pirates now look a little foolish for failing to make Burnett a qualifying offer (one year, $14 million). Had they done so, they either would have had Burnett back, or would now have a compensatory pick (unless, that is, the drag of the qualifying offer made Burnett unsignable, which is unlikely).