The Orioles came into Saturday with a four-game lead in the AL East despite getting a 4.07 ERA from their rotation, the ninth worst in baseball and the worst in the division. Starting pitching figures to be on their trade deadline shopping list, and they are reportedly having preliminary talks with the Phillies about A.J. Burnett.
Phillies and Orioles have had very preliminary talks on a trade that would send A.J. Burnett to Baltimore, sources tell @FOXSports1.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 19, 2014
No substantial progress made yet in the Orioles-Phillies talks on Burnett, but there has been initial dialogue, sources say.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 19, 2014
Burnett's wife is from Maryland and they live there in the offseason, so he's been connected to the Orioles just about every time he's been a free agent in his career.
The 37-year-old Burnett is 6-9 with a 4.08 ERA in 21 starts and 136 2/3 innings for Philadelphia this year. His strikeout (7.4 K/9) and ground ball (49.6 percent) rates are way down from his last two seasons with the Pirates while his walk rate (3.8 BB/9) is way up. That's not a good combination.
The Phillies signed Burnett to a one-year deal worth $16 million guaranteed in the spring. The contract includes a $15 million mutual option for 2015, though if the team declines their half, Burnett holds a $7.5 million player option for next year, which could complicate things.
Philadelphia has the seventh worst record in baseball at 42-54, coming into Saturday. Veteran left-handers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are also said to be on the trade block should the Phillies finally decide to sell.