CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies signed pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one-year contract Wednesday, a baseball source confirmed. Fox Sports said the deal was worth $16 million. The deal contains a limited no-trade clause.
The signing of the 37-year-old right-hander came just moments after Cole Hamels announced that he was behind schedule in his throwing program after battling shoulder tendinitis during the offseason. Hamels said he feels “great” now, but he will not be ready for opening day (see story).
Burnett considered retirement earlier this winter. The Phillies kept tabs on him throughout the offseason and intensified pursuit of him a couple of weeks ago when he decided to continue his career. Burnett was 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA in 61 starts for Pittsburgh the last two seasons.
On the surface, Burnett gives the Phillies a strong No. 3 man in the rotation behind Cliff Lee and Hamels. However, if Hamels suffers a recurrence of his shoulder problems, Burnett will become the No. 2 man and the Phils’ rotation will be back to where it was -- i.e., extremely thin.
Assuming Hamels is ready sometime in April, the Phillies will need two starters to emerge from the group of Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez, Miguel Gonzalez and Jonathan Pettibone. We looked at the rotation in this story.