In reporting on rumors of interest in A.J. Burnett on behalf of the Washington Nationals last week, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote that while you shouldn't count them out when pitching is available, "....a person with a Nats connection suggested they'd 'most likely' stick with their current rotation unless a 'value' materialized." Heyman theorized that Burnett's desire to sign with a team close to his Maryland home could make the nation's capital an attractive destination.
This afternoon, however, there are multiple reports that the Nationals' NL East rivals and neighbors to the north from Philadelphia have signed the 37-year-old, 15-year-old veteran to a 1-year/$16M deal:
Phillies have a one year deal with Burnett, source confirms.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) February 12, 2014
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Hayden Galvady? had the details on the dollar value of the deal:
Burnett didn't receive a qualifying offer from the Pirates coming off a (10-11) 2013 season in Pittsburgh in which he earned $16.5M in the final year of the 5-year/$82.5M he signed with the New York Yankees in 2008. The veteran right-hander put up 3.30 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 67 walks (3.16 BB/9) and 209 Ks (9.85 K/9) in 30 starts and 191 IP over which he was worth +4.0 fWAR.
The announcement of Burnett's deal with the Phillies followed an announcement this morning from Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels, who said he was behind in his throwing program and would likely not be ready for Opening Day after "experiencing discomfort in his pitching shoulder," this winter as CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reported.
How much interest the Nationals really had in Burnett is unclear. With the veteran righty off the market, the Nationals will have left-hander Ross Detwiler and right-handers Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan and Ross Ohlendorf in camp battling for the fifth spot in the rotation after Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister. Nationals.com writer Bill Ladson wrote Tuesday that Jordan, 25, suffered a broken right ankle this winter that he said won't keep him from competing for the fifth spot. Detwiler, 27, if healthy, is the frontrunner for the fifth spot as Spring Training gets underway.
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