Burnett opts out, becomes free agent
TORONTO — A.J. Burnett is going to be a free agent. On Tuesday, Burnett’s agent, Darek Braunecker, confirmed that the pitcher will opt out of his contract with the Blue Jays, walking away from the $24 million he was scheduled to make over the next two seasons.
Braunecker met with the Blue Jays on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Dana Point, Calif., to inform the club of his client’s decision. Braunecker stressed that Burnett’s choice doesn’t mean that the right-hander doesn’t still have interest in re-signing with Toronto.
Burnett signed a five-year contract worth $55 million with the Blue Jays before the 2006 season. After a pair of injury-riddled campaigns, Burnett pieced together arguably the best showing of his career in ’08, posting a personal-best 18 wins with an American League-leading 231 strikeouts.
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who was not immediately available for comment, has indicated that the club would be willing to discuss a new multi-year contract for the pitcher. Braunecker chose not to comment when asked if Toronto had already fielded an offer to retain the pitcher.
Beyond the Blue Jays, the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox have all been rumored to be interested in Burnett, who makes his offseason home outside of Baltimore. Burnett is arguably the top available arm behind free agent CC Sabathia and could be in the market for a four- or five-year deal worth between $15-18 million annually.