Reports: Phillies Sign A.J. Burnett for One Year, $16 Million

phillies logoAccording 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).

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

85 responses to “Reports: Phillies Sign A.J. Burnett for One Year, $16 Million”

  1. Diehardthefirst

    You’d be surprised at Ryan Howard this year and could be comeback finalist- lost 35 lbs and looks 21 yrs old in way he’s running moving etc.. If he has huge year he could carry team to playoffs- he’s the type of horse Cubs lack- cant see any current Cub carrying team

    1. roz

      Just realized that Ryan Howard is 34 years old. Where the heck has the time gone?

      1. gocatsgo2003

        The better question is more “where has Ryan Howard gone?” Unfortunately for him, the answer has been the disabled list more often than not these past two years — 71 games played in 2012 and 80 last year. Not a bad way to rake in $40 million if you can get the work.

        1. dkap

          Ryan Howard was just spending too much time on The Office. Duh.

      2. fromthemitten

        he was pretty old when he came up cuz he was blocked by Thome

    2. DarthHater
  2. Eternal Pessimist

    That’s a big contract. If he is so-so or worse It will be hard to off-load him for anything at mid-season with $8 million left to pay. I doubt this will hit the shark market.

  3. Kyle

    The Cubs’ chances of being the worst team in the NL just went up a bit.

    1. Myles

      Maybe by around half of a percent. The Phillies were already a fair bit better than the Cubs (probably 4-6 wins true talent wise), and you’d expect those teams to finish with a better record than the Cubs around 80% of the time. Burnett adds a few wins, so maybe now they have 10 to 1 odds on the Cubs (from 5 to 1). The only way that would matter, though, is if the Cubs and Phillies are the two worst teams in the NL; that’s not that likely, considering the Phillies were already better than the Mets and Marlins before this deal, and I’m not so sure one team in the bottom of the AL West doesn’t put up an ugly number.

    2. JacqueJones

      I’d say their odds went down a bit. The only real competition for worst record was gonna be the marlins and the mets possibly. Phillies being better increases their odds of winning more games against those teams. Also Pirates are marginally worse meaning the cubs might win one more game against them than they otherwise would have

  4. CubSTH60625

    The Phillies motto: “Sign all the old players.”

    Shit on the Cubs all we want…the Phillies have no idea what they’re doing.

    1. When The Musics Over

      Eh. You can rip on the Phillies moves in aggregate, but I don’t see any issues with AJ Burnett on a one year deal, especially if it doesn’t include a full NTC (even if it does, he still might be willing to waive it latee).

      This type of move would be great for the Cubs, again, especially without a full NTC.

      1. josh ruiter

        This is a good move…unless Burnett regresses a bit… in which case you just spent 16 million on a guy you couldn’t move b/c of the money and put up a 4/5 type season instead of a 2/3. Lest we forget how damn near impossible it was to trade Soriano and he had plus value in LF last year. We had to eat most of the contract plus got a flawed prospect back…albeit one I like the upside on.

        1. When The Musics Over

          Again, eh. It’s only money (no draft pick comp) and definitely not our money (as in yours or mine).

          And if he slips to back end is output, the Phillies can always eat salary, and get a Corey Black type guy in return.

    2. Jon

      “Shit on the Cubs all we want…the Phillies have no idea what they’re doing.”

      4 postseason appearances the last 7 years ,one world series.

      1. Kyle

        Pff, World Series and playoffs? Where do they rank on the prospect lists?

        1. Funn Dave


      2. josh ruiter

        Yeh, and now they have kept the same roster damn near with 7 years of aging and we see they are possibly the worst team in the NL east!! sustained…key part of the vision…sustained success.

        1. When The Musics Over

          You can’t state sustained success without knowing it will happen. For, far too many people quote sustained success as if it’s going to happen with 100% certainty.

          Sure, the Cubs are trying to get there (as to whether it was the optimal or most tasteful route in getting there is clearly up for debate), but just cause they’re trying doesn’t mean it’s a lock to happen.

          1. josh ruiter

            true, but history shows, age induces decline at some point…if you aren’t building from within it is hard to sustain, even the yanks in their glory days were built from the farm and supplemented with big contract guys.

            1. When The Musics Over

              Id take alot of years of futility for the run the Phillies just had.

              Also, there’s no telling what will happen with the Phillies in the next 5-10 years. Sure, they’re looking uphill, but it doesn’t mean that slope is quite as steep as the one the Cubs have (arguably to some extent artificially created, yet another argumentative point) stared at.

      3. When The Musics Over

        Isn’t making the playoffs over 50% of the time with one world series appearance over the course of a seven year period almost a textbook definition of sustained success?

        So many key pieces of that run were from their farm system. What happened was the Phillies signed them to huge extensions, something the Cubs may do too, and they let the farm system go a bit down the stretch with trades (not a bad thing, as it’s stated all the time that the Cubs should supplement through trades), lower first round picks due to success (not everyone can be the cards) and some misses and poor development.

      4. Noah_I

        Right, but Ruben Amaro should not get the credit for that success, at least as a GM. The team was built by Pat Gillick, and is currently in one of the worst positions to compete in the future because of Amaro’s moves. And I loved some of Amaro’s moves: getting Lee twice, picking up Halladay. But that is a team that has been declining for two seasons, will continue to decline, and has made several moves that will negatively affect their ability to compete over the next half decade.

        I applaud the team they built, on the back of a strong farm system, no less, from 2007-2011. But they have not only failed to make the moves that lead to sustained success, but also specifically made moves that harm their ability to compete in the future, particularly the wholly unnecessary Ryan Howard extension.

        So while I would love for the Cubs to have the five year stretch the Phillies had, I’d rather be the Rays, Red Sox or Cardinals. Teams that have been just as competitive over the same period of time, and look to continue being competitive into the future.

      5. Isaac

        Think maybe homegrown talent had anything to do with that success? Are they now paying the price for overpaying that homegrown talent instead of letting them walk? Yes, absolutely.

  5. D-Rock

    1 year, 16 mil? Did I read this right? Wow, seems a little steep…

  6. notcubbiewubbie

    the throwing around of monopoly money in MLB continues.As granny once said 16 millions of dollars.stupid stupid and more stupid.

    1. bbmoney

      well if we’d quit throwing our money at the MLB and their teams and the people that pay them to advertise at their games and broadcast their games they probably wouldn’t pay the folks that generate all that revenue for them so much.

      Short of that….this complaint is getting old and ignores the basic economic reality that the MLB makes a lot of money so they pay the people that make it for them a lot of money.

      1. notcubbiewubbie

        you missed the point a.j. burnett stinks. nothing wrong with paying the players who deserve it!!

        1. bbmoney

          You need work on your topic sentences then, because you didn’t even mention AJ Burnett in your post. Not only that, but AJ Burnett has clearly not stunk the past couple of years.

    2. Blackhawks1963

      It’s an excellent fair market contract. Only 1 year for a very effective starting pitcher who will deliver 30 starts, 200 innings and a lot of quality starts.

      This isn’t 1929. The supply and demand for ballplayers makes salaries what they are.

  7. Blackhawks1963

    That’s a very good contract for Philly. Burnett can still pitch, and pitch well. What I don’t understand is why he signed with the Phillies because they are going to be awful. I get it that he wanted to be close to his Maryland home and wanted to stay in the NL. I guess winning isn’t high on his list of priorities. He did win a couple World Series rings already, so maybe that’s the rationale.

    1. gocatsgo2003

      Explain how one year at $16 million is a “very good contract for Philly.” Burnett has been a pretty “meh” pitcher over the past few years after cashing in on his decent years from 2004-2006in a GIGANTIC way. His ERA+ stats since 2010 are 82, 83, 107, and 107 while WAR over the same period of time were -0.8 (no typo), 0.8, 2.2, and 1.7.

      Sure he’s been a pretty effective innings-eater with no less than 186.2 IP each year since 2009… but he’s been earning $16.5 million as a rather pedestrian innings-eater.

      1. Jon

        Burnett has not been a “meh” pitcher the past two seasons.

      2. Cizzle

        For what it’s worth, Fan Graphs and BR have much different WAR ratings for him.
        FG – BR
        2010: 1.2 – (-.8)
        2011: 1.1 – .8
        2012: 3 – 2.2
        2013: 4 – 1.7

  8. D-Rock

    Despite the 10-11 record, he did have a good year last year and a good year in 2012. But, is A.J. Burnett really worth 16 mil per year? To say the price for good pitching is at a premium right now would be an understatement.

    1. Jon

      1) Last year he was easily worth 16 million
      2) If he meets his projections of 3 Wins in 2014, he’s worth 16 million
      3) Getting a low risk 1 year deal involves paying a bit of a premium, if there is demand for the player.

    2. Kyle

      Yes. AJ Burnett is really worth $16m per year.

      1. Edwin

        I think it’s a little strange move for the Phillies to make though. They’re getting good a pitcher, but they’re more than 1 good pitcher away from competing. And they can try to flip Burnett, but unless they plan on eating most of his salary, I don’t think they get as huge a return for him in a mid season trade. He’ll be good, but he’ll also be paid fairly close to what he’s worth. Not much surplus value to be had.

        1. Jon

          Some teams, if they see value on the market, grab it.

          1. Edwin

            Seems like Burnett is being paid close to what he should be worth. Not much surplus value in the move, unless the Phililes eat some salary in a trade.

            1. Jon

              If Burnett pitches to a 3 or 4 Win pitcher in 2014 there is a ton of value of there.

              If Burnett can be flipped midseason for some prospects there is value there.

              If he flops, who cares. It didn’t cost anything but cash. Something they are flush with.

              1. Edwin

                I’m not referring to value as in how good will Burnett be, I’m referring to value as in surplus value, which is somewhat more important when looking at trades.

                If Burnett pitches to a 3 WAR player, he’s worth about $18MM, or close to it. He’s being paid $16MM. As far as surplus value goes, there’s not a lot of surplus value to be had.

                It he flops, it means the Phillies wasted $16MM that could have been spent elsewhere.

          2. Brocktoon

            We do that, it’s just that we only see value in minor league deals and injury rehabs

          3. BT

            Wait, now I’m confused. I thought there were no awards for getting value on a deal.

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          There are two explanations here. One, given that the Phils recently were good, Amaro might be making the mistake of thinking that his rapidly sinking ship is one or two patches away from being a contender again. It’s the same mistake that Hendry made after 2010: yes, Garza was a good pitcher, but the rest of the team was declining so rapidly that he barely halted the free-fall.

          Two, teams seem to be valuing prospects like never before. The Phillies system is pretty “meh” right now (although they do have some very young prospects that have impressed people), and Amaro might view this as a way to add one or two more prospects. Basically, he’s going to pay $8-12M for that: and a lot of teams would do that now. (Had Burnett been willing to talk with teams outside of Pennsylvania and Maryland, then I think that he would have had a pretty big market.)

          1. DarthHater

            He’s just counting on a big boost from a full year of Sandberg belly fire!

            1. Diehardthefirst

              If he spoke Spanish Cubs would’ve signed Sandberg- LOL

          2. Edwin

            For some reason, I thought Amaro wasn’t too fond of eating salary when trading players. I thought that’s why he was having problems trying to trade Cliff Lee.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Sorry, by paying $8-12M for prospects, I was referring to the half to 2/3rds season for which the Phils would be paying. I should have been more clear on that point.

              (Of course, that is a sunk cost now, so eating salary for prospects might still seem like a good idea: and you can improve the quality of the prospects by eating salary, too.)

              1. Edwin

                You can, but some owners aren’t willing to do it. If the Phillies plan on eating salary, it makes more sense.

            2. When The Musics Over

              Cliff Lee has a huge amount of money left on his contract. Burnett, if tradeable, will have less than 8M near the trade deadline. If eating 3-4M of that means getting a more considerable return, that’s significantly different that eating a huge portion of Lee’s contract.

              1. Edwin

                Lee is also a much better pitcher than Burnett.

                Lee makes $25MM, $25MM, and $27MM the next 3 seasons. The last season is an option year with a $12MM buyout, but it becomes gauranteed if Lee is not on the DL at the end of 2015 with left shoulder/elbow problems, and if he pitches either 200 or more IP in 2015, or 400 or more IP in 2014/2015 combined.

                Assuming a team gets Lee for all three years, and assuming $/WAR is about $6MM, Lee needs to be worth a little under 13 WAR the next 3 seasons to be worth his contract. So basically 4.2 WAR per season. Less, if the $/WAR increases over the next couple years due to inflation.

                So if the Phillies eat enough of his deal, Lee could be a pretty attractive trade piece to a number of teams.

                1. When The Musics Over

                  Regardless of WAR, there is still an absolute amount of cash eating that gives teams the willies.

          3. When The Musics Over

            Big difference is the Burnett signing comes with zero risk outside of cash. Getting Garza, at that time, came with a very sizeable prospect cost.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Oh, yes, that clearly is different. I was referring purely to why the Phils might be deluded into thinking that Burnett could get them back into contention.

              (Again, I should have been more clear! Mea culpa….)

              1. Edwin

                Faulty programming…

                1. DarthHater

                  Human error.

  9. Funn Dave

    Man, the Pirates can’t do anything right this offseason.

    1. YourResidentJag

      You do realize that they have a highly regarded Taillon in their farm system ready to make his way into the majors, right? To go along with Cole?

      1. Funn Dave

        …whom they acquired in 2010….Not sure how that relates to this offseason….

        1. YourResidentJag

          So, this offseason they decided to replace Burnett with one of their own SP???

  10. Jon

    Some of you remind me of my old man, griping about the cost of gas. It’s 2014, it’s professional baseball, get with the times.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      No, no, no. Baseball is hardly any different from beer league softball, and I don’t get paid millions of dollars to play beer league softball. Ergo, these guys are over-paid.

      1. Fishin Phil

        ” and I don’t get paid millions of dollars to play beer league softball.”

        Clearly, you need a better agent.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          They gave us a choice between that (some kid named Boras) or better beer. I now regret that decision.

  11. Javier Bryant

    Pirates and possibly the Orioles could become desperate for a starting pitcher now…Samardzija?

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      The O’s supposedly are very reluctant to part with any good prospects. However, it seems that they really thought that they could get Burnett, so that might change: it really depends on whether Duquette feels that the clock is ticking (or at least anywhere near as much as the local sports media does).

  12. Spoda17

    I live 2 hours north of Philadelphia… this is a stupid move… I am not sure what that has to do with me living north pf Philly…

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Well, drive south for an hour. Tally how dumb you think the move is.

      Then drive north for two hours. Tally how dumb you think the move is there.

      And then we’ll all make a tally! :-)

  13. Revery

    Still have not heard an answer to why the Pirates failed to offer a QO.

    1. Kyle

      Because he might have accepted and they didn’t want to budget for it.

      1. Brocktoon

        He absolutely would have accepted. I don’t know if it was his intent but his “Pittsburgh or bust” comments served the same way that graces comments did after the 2000 season. Managed to convince his old team who clearly didn’t want him at market rates to keep his free agency compensation free

  14. CubFanBob

    Happy he didnt sign with the Pirates. Anything that weakens the Pirates is good from my perspective. I have a feeling we are going to see a Pirates team that closer represents that 2012 team than last year’s team.

  15. V23

    It all makes sense now. Jon is a Phillies fan. He carries the tradition very well.

    Burnett for $16 Mil? I guess a contract without risk since it’s 1 year. However, I watched a lot of Burnett last year and he lost a lot as the season went on. But, why not, with no long-term commitment, it’s a no-brainer for a team with space, especially if flippable.

  16. ari gold

    The sad part is there are a few fans on this board that would be fully on board with what the Phillies are doing.

    1. Edwin

      What is it that the Phillies are doing?

      1. ari gold

        Spending on over the hill players that are very unlikely to lead them to a playoff appearance. Spend $ just to spend $ says some peeps on this board.

      2. Mike

        Trying to have the first all senior citizen team to be above .500? I don’t know what else they would be trying to do.

        1. Mike

          Oh wait, the Yankees did that last year. I’m all out of ideas then.

    2. Brocktoon

      What harm exactly does this do to the Phillies future?

      1. Jon

        It violates the law of “does this singular move make you a contender ?” So it’s bad

  17. woody

    For the amount that they gave Burnett they must think they are contending. LMAO

  18. woody

    Just curious to know what the pirates were offering? Burnett is just getting paid for one more year while staying close to family. Money is nice!

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