9. A.J. Burnett – 2009
During the offseason prior to the 2006 season, the Blue Jays landed one of the top free agents in A.J. Burnett and signed him to a five-year, $55 Million contract. Burnett was supposed to join Roy Halladay as a powerful one-two punch at the top end of the rotation, however, Burnett struggled with injuries over the first two seasons of his contract and missed about 11 starts in year one and seven more in year two. In the third year of his contract, Burnett was not only healthy but looked pretty darn good as he posted an 18-10 record while leading the league in strikeouts.
The unfortunate part of the contract was that there was a player opt-out clause after the third season and since the right-hander was coming off a career season, he exercised the option. Burnett had two years left with around $26.4 Million remaining on his contract and instead got a new five-year deal worth $82.5 Million contract with the New York Yankees. Several fans felt betrayed by Burnett opting out and signing with the Bronx Bombers.
Fans didn’t have to wait long for the return of Burnett as he was back in Toronto the following May and fans were not kind, showering him with boos. It was a match-up fans wanted, Burnett vs Halladay with the Jays hero winning the pitching match-up.
Burnett was able to carry a no-hitter into the fourth inning, at which point the Jays’ bats came alive for three runs, which included a two-run double by Scott Rolen. Burnett was able to get control of the Blue Jays over the next few innings, retiring eight straight batters at one point. Joe Girardi may have left his new pitcher in too long as he got hit around in the eighth inning which led to two more runs, including an Aaron Hill home run. The Blue Jays would hand Burnett his first loss of the season which fans loved and the bow on top was Halladay needed just 103 pitches for his first complete game of the season and his seventh win of the year.
Pitching Line: 7.2 IP | 7H | 5ER | 5R | 4BB | 3K | 1HR