Valuing A.J. Burnett

There have been some recent rumblings about A.J. Burnett opting out of the two years remaining on his current deal in order to pursue free agency.

According to a knowledgeable source, the Jays are prepared to offer Burnett a two-year, $30 million (U.S.) extension. That would reshape his existing deal into a four-year, $54 million contract.

That doesn’t appear to be enough to satisfy one of the most coveted pitchers in baseball. Braunecker was not prepared to say exactly what he expects for his client, but said money would not be the main consideration.

I think he would be wise to accept the Jays’ offer. I have Burnett valued at about $52 million over the next for years, which translates to an average annual value of $13 million.

One apparent sticking point with the deal is that Burnett’s agent wants to get his client an additional year, which the Jays don’t appear to be willing to sacrifice.

“The primary issue would be how many years they would be willing to go,” Braunecker said. “It’s difficult to get five years on a pitcher … but if indeed he says he wants another five-year deal, we may have to go out on the market to get that.”

Indeed, a five-year deal at a lower average annual salary might be preferable to a four-year deal at with a slightly higher average, but I’m not sure if he’ll be able to get that additional year. The fact that he’s pushing so hard for it, combined with his injury history, ought make teams wary.

It’s possible that Burnett may be able to squeeze some more cash out of another franchise, but it’s an awful risk to take. I really can’t see another team offering more than what the Jays have supposedly put on the table. And this is from the guy who typically defends high salaries that most think are outrageous.

One Response “Valuing A.J. Burnett”

  1. Mark F says:

    Also to note (although I’m no tax expert) there is a 12.5% tax advantage for Burnett to stay with the Blue Jays making the $13.5/yr  equivalent to $15.1/yr if he signs with another club.  Although not talked about much the President of the Blue Jays Paul Godfrey was defending the clubs position a year ago about not bidding higher to retain Ted Lilly on a radio talk show.  He stated Lilly left $5M on the table to sign with the Cubs even though both clubs offered the same 4yr / $40M dollar deals.  He stated that players actually make more because of the different tax laws.  I’m not sure if it’s the signing bonus structure of the deals (there seem to be alot with the Blue Jays) or non-resident status but there’s some loop hole.