Sep 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) delivers a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

BREAKING: Phillies Sign A.J. Burnett to one-year/$16 million deal

Within an hour of Cole Hamels announcing he would miss the start of the 2014 season, the Phillies softened the blow of the injury news with a substantial reinforcement to the rotation.

A.J. Burnett, the free agent starter who spent last season with the Pirates, will be joining the Phillies on a one-year/$16 million deal. The 37-year old right-hander will be pitching for his fifth different team in his 16th major league season.

Burnett went 10-11 last season with a 3.30 ERA and was a fixture on a Pirates staff that helped clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth in 21 years. Even at his age, Burnett still posts impressive innings numbers and should stabilize a Phillies rotation that, after Lee and Hamels, tails off quite a bit in terms of proven dependability.

Depending on how things shake out, one has to expect that Burnett will be the team’s third starter. After him, Hamels, and Burnett one has to figure the Phillies will use some combination of: Kyle Kendrick, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone, and Roberto Hernandez to round out the rotation. Far from the ‘Four Aces’ but the addition of Burnett paints a much rosier picture than even just an hour prior to the signing, given the news about Hamels.

Burnett does not have the same sort of overpowering fastball he once had, but he has developed into an impressive veteran presence off the mound. He has played on a World Series team, the 2009 Yankees that defeated the Phillies, and knows what it takes to win. A one-year deal, despite a substantial price tag attached to it, is money well spent for a Phillies organization that desperately needed to sway things in a different direction and inspire some optimism entering the 2014 season.

Tags: A.J. Burnett Baseball MLB Philadelphia Phillies

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