Source: Phils, Burnett Agree to 1-Year Deal
A source said this morning the Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract with right-hander A.J. Burnett.
It includes a mutual option for 2015 and a limited no-trade clause.
If everybody is healthy, Burnett, 37, projects atop the rotation with Hamels and Cliff Lee. Burnett went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts last season with the Pirates. He led the big leagues in ground ball-to-fly ball ratio (2.62), which should help at cozy Citizens Bank Park. He also led the National League with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
“I have met him quite a few times when he was with Toronto,” Hamels said before news broke about the deal. “He’s got unbelievable talent. Unfortunately, I think he kept us away from another ring (in 2009 World Series). What he brings to the table is great. If we’re able to get him, it only helps us out. It doesn’t hurt us. He’s another veteran who has good experience and a good repertoire. I know he is pretty charismatic. He would be good for us.”
Interestingly, Burnett’s $16 million salary could push the Phillies to a franchise-record payroll following an 89-loss season in 2013. They finished 2012 at a record $174.5 million, according to figures sent from the commissioner’s office to teams for luxury tax purposes. That figure includes the average annual value of contracts, more than $10 million for benefits and extended benefits, bonuses and more.
Figure Burnett’s $16 million salary into the mix, and the Phillies payroll alone is about $174 million with the luxury tax now $189 million.
So why Burnett? The payroll actually might have something to do with it.
The Phillies already are heavily invested in players like Hamels, Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and others. The front office believes if the team is healthy it will win. If that is the case and the Phillies are all-in, why not spend more to improve the rotation?
The rotation had its share of concerns following Hamels and Lee, and now Hamels is behind schedule after feeling discomfort in his throwing shoulder around Thanksgiving. Hamels said he is not worried, is pain free and expects to be pitching in a regular-season game in April, but players often put on rose-colored glasses when speaking about their health.
But Kyle Kendrick had a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 starts last season before finishing the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December, but has a 5.19 ERA over 67 appearances (59 starts) the past three seasons. The No. 5 job projected to be a competition between Miguel Gonzalez and Jonathan Pettibone. The Phillies have tempered expectations for Gonzalez, who signed a three-year, $12 million deal last summer.