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The Philadelphia Phillies have shown a lot of interest in free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett recently, and a deal would make sense for both parties.
Burnett pitched very well for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season; he pitched 191 innings, had an ERA of 3.30, a win-loss record of 10-11, and he was averaging 9.85 strikeouts per nine innings, which was the best in the National League. Those are some great numbers. He also had the National League’s second best ground ball rate, at 56.5%. He’s a great pitcher. He’s certainly a player that every team would love to have.
If the Phillies were to sign him, he would be their third starter, behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. That would be a great 1-2-3 in the Phillies’ starting rotation. So he would obviously make the starting rotation better, and he would make the bullpen better too, actually. The Phillies have would have six starting pitchers if they signed him; Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Kendrick, and of course, A.J. Burnett. Only five of those guys would be starters, forcing either Roberto Hernandez or Kyle Kendrick to go to the bullpen. Kendrick would probably be the one to go to the bullpen, because he lacks stamina and he has pitched very well in the bullpen before. Having Kendrick in the bullpen would be great, because long relievers are very valuable. Signing Burnett would be great for the Phillies’ pitching staff.
But is the price right?
Burnett would most likely get a one year deal worth somewhere between 14 and 20 million dollars. That’s a lot of money and a big risk, especially because Burnett is 37 years old. But, let’s think worst case scenario; Burnett pitches terribly for the Phillies, they wasted 14-20 million dollars. That’s bad, but it’s not that bad. This season is probably their last chance at the playoffs for awhile, so this is a risk that they have to take. Signing Burnett would help a lot, and at this point, I see no reason that the Phillies shouldn’t sign him.