The New York Yankees reeled in another pitcher with a rich offer, reaching agreement with free agent A.J. Burnett on $82.5 million, five-year contract Friday.
CC Sabathia and the Yankees made a deal for $161 million over seven years on Wednesday during the winter meetings. After missing the playoffs following a 13-year run, the Yankees again showed they were more than willing to shell out big bucks for pitching.
Burnett’s agreement, which averages $16.5 million annually, was confirmed by the office of his agent, Darek Braunecker. The pitcher still needs to take a physical before the deal is completed.
“I can sense the excitement and the confidence that’s spreading around the entire organization about what we’re getting done and what we may get done still,” Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said earlier Friday, before Burnett’s decision became known. “A rising tide lifts all boats, and the confidence and the excitement right now among the team and the organization is contagious.”
Burnett joins a rotation that also includes holders Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. New York is hoping to re-sign Andy Pettitte and has looked at Ben Sheets as an alternative.
“I think it has the makings of a great offseason, and clearly our players do, too,” Steinbrenner said.
Burnett won 10 of his last 12 decisions and finished 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA for Toronto. He set career highs in wins, strikeouts (231) and innings (221 1-3).
After the season, the 31-year-old righty opted out of his $55 million, five-year contract with the Blue Jays and became a free agent. He had two years and $24 million left on his deal with Toronto.
Burnett has done especially well against AL East rivals Boston and the Yankees. He went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts against the Yankees this year; he is 5-0 lifetime vs. the Red Sox.
Burnett, however, has been plagued by injuries over the years and has made several trips to the disabled list with elbow and shoulder troubles. He was fine this season and made a career-best 35 starts.
Atlanta was among the teams that also pursued Burnett. With the Yankees and their $1 billion-plus new ballpark, he would join a rotation that includes Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain.
Wang was hurt for most of this season and Mike Mussina retired after winning 20 games. Andy Pettitte remains in the mix, if he and the Yankees want to work out a deal for him to return. Ben Sheets and Jake Peavy were among the other aces that drew interest from the Yankees.
Burnett began his major league career with Florida in 1999 and joined Toronto as a free agent for the 2006 season. He is 87-76 overall with a 3.81 ERA.
Notes: The Yankees failed to offer 2009 contracts to RHP Chris Britton and OF Justin Christian, making them free agents.
HBT: Robinson Cano homered twice while David Phelps had the longest outing of his career as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays 7-2 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
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