A Return Engagement for Blue Jays and A.J. Burnett?


Aug 20, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) throws during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When a team falls out of contention, one useful way to continue to stir up interest in the squad is to play armchair GM. In regards to the Toronto Blue Jays, that tactic apparently holds true for the mainstream media as well.

Within his Sunday feature post, Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo took his turn at the helm, and speculated that the Blue Jays may look to a familiar face this winter in order to help solve their pitching woes.

That familiar face; A.J. Burnett.

You all remember Burnett, right? The 36-year-old spent three seasons in Toronto after signing as a free agent prior to the 2006 season. His tenure in Toronto wasn’t entirely horrible either, with the right-hander posting a 38-26 record with a 3.94 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 ratio for the Blue Jays. Baseball-Reference had him worth 6.7 wins above replacement during his Blue Jays career.

Burnett has also looked good during this two-year stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who acquired him prior to the 2012 campaign from the New York Yankees for a pair of minor leaguers . With the Yankees paying $20 million of the $33 million owed to Burnett over the last two seasons, the deal has proven a steal for the Buccos, especially considering he’s posted a solid 22-19 record with a 3.37 ERA and an 8.8 K/9 ratio during that time.

If you consider those two stops on the A.J. Burnett tour, the results are decent and could feasibly justify giving him another look this winter.

However, the Yankee years have to give anyone pause, especially considering he’d once again be pitching in the American League East.

During his three-year Yankee career, Burnett was absolutely shelled and proved to be one of the worst free agent signings under Brian Cashman. At 34-35 with a 4.93 ERA and a 7.9 K/9 ratio, Burnett was routinely beaten up, both by opposing teams and the rough media in New York. He would surrender a total of 81 home runs over that three-year span and was worth 4.4 wins in a Yankee uniform.

With Burnett considering retirement after the season, it would be hard to justify giving him the type of contract needed to get a deal done. No team in its right mind would put a long-term deal on the table, nor would it choose to chase him in a weak pitching market despite the obvious need.

Then again, stranger things have happened, but one would have to hope that Alex Anthopoulos wouldn’t take the risk, even with the obvious need.