The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $16MM contract with starter A.J. Burnett, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The news was first reported by Hayden Balgavy of THV11 in Arkansas.
The deal, which will guarantee Burnett $15MM in 2014, also includes a $15MM mutual option or $1MM buyout for 2015, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman adds that Burnett also has a $7.5MM player option that he can exercise if the Phillies decline their side, protecting him from the qualifying offer process next offseason. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com notes that Burnett can earn $1.75MM in performance bonuses in each season, and multiple reports note that Burnett has a partial no-trade clause that will allow him to block trades to 21 out of the 30 major league teams. He will submit a list of nine destinations that he would consider acceptable.
After leaning towards retirement early in the offseason, Burnett expressed his desire to play last month, and drew significant interest from the Pirates, Nationals, Orioles and Rangers before signing with the Phillies.
Sources indicate that the Phillies were not willing to part with a draft pick to sign a free agent starter, meaning that they were never seriously involved in talks with Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. Burnett will not cost them a pick, making him a great fit to join Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Kyle Kendrick in a formidable starting rotation.
Burnett, 37, was 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts with the Pirates last season, helping Pittsburgh reach the postseason for the first time since 1992. In fifteen major league seasons with the Marlins (1999-2005), Blue Jays (2006-2008), Yankees (2009-2011) and Pirates (2012-2013), he has a lifetime 147-132 record and 3.99 ERA in 375 appearances (370 starts).
Burnett has now signed three free agent deals in his major league career, and today's $16 million guarantee brings his career earnings to over $136.7 million. In 2006, he signed a five-year, $55 million deal with the Blue Jays (although he opted out after the third year), before signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Yankees before the 2009 season.
With Burnett and fellow veteran starter Bronson Arroyo off the board, attention will now turn to Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, who both remain free agents. Each is currently in the process of negotiating with interested teams in hopes of landing multi-year contracts in the coming days.