It’s Official: Burnett Signs $16 Million Deal

burnettThe A.J. Burnett deal is official.

The Phillies announced this morning they have signed Burnett to a one-year, $16 million deal, which includes a mutual/player option, bonuses and a limited no-trade clause.

Burnett will speak to reporters after today’s workout at Carpenter Complex.

“To be able to add a pitcher of A.J.’s caliber at this time of year says a lot about our ownership group’s commitment to winning,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “A.J. will complement Cole (Hamels) and Cliff (Lee) in our rotation and adds another experienced arm to our team.”

If everybody is healthy, Burnett, 37, projects to slot atop the rotation with Hamels and 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. Burnett also led the National League with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He has made at least 30 starts for the sixth consecutive season.

“I have met him quite a few times when he was with Toronto,” Hamels said last week. “He’s got unbelievable talent. Unfortunately, I think he kept us away from another ring [in the 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.”

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 Phils’ payroll alone is about $174 million, with the luxury-tax threshold now at $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 Phils 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, which resulted in left biceps tendinitis. Hamels said he is not worried, is pain-free and expects to be pitching in a regular-season game in April.

Kyle Kendrick had a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 starts last season before finishing the campaign on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December, but he has a 5.19 ERA over 67 appearances (59 starts) the past three seasons. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others will also be getting looks as starters this spring.

Burnett will wear No. 34, which Roy Halladay wore the past four seasons.

To make room for Burnett on the 40-man roster, left-hander Joe Savery has been designated for assignment.

3 Comments

I think you had a typo. You said Burnett was slotted atop te rotation when he is clearly the #3. Lee will get the opener. If Hamels was healthy he’s be #2. Burnett three.
As it is now, the 1-2 punch of Lee & Burnett to start the season is pretty exciting.

It appeared that Hamels was going to pitch OD if healthy.

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