CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A.J. Burnett and the Philadelphia Phillies have completed a contract that guarantees the pitcher $15 million for 2014 and $22.5 million over two seasons.
Under the deal finalized Sunday, Burnett would make $33.5 million over two seasons if he makes 30 starts or more in both years.
The 37-year-old Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh for the last two seasons, chose the Phillies over the Pirates, he said, because of the proximity of the team to his home in Monkton, Md. Burnett said the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals showed very little interest.
"An hour and a half," Burnett said of the commute to Philadelphia from home. "I can drive home and stay in my own house if I want to. ... I'll put it very simple, this is the first time in my career I made a decision that wasn't about A.J. Burnett. It was about my wife. It was about my kids. It was about playing somewhere where I'm at home and can still do what I love. And that feels good. It feels good. It was a no-brainer."
Burnett revived his career with Pittsburgh the last two seasons, pitching to a 3.31 ERA and winning 26 games.
For the majority of the winter, Burnett said he was leaning toward retirement, however. But then the "itch" to start throwing again arrived in January and he changed his mind.
For the Phillies, an older team still attempting to contend, Burnett was the "perfect fit," said general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
"Being able to bring in a top of the rotation talent, someone who knows what it takes to win a championship, somebody who knows how to pitch when the game is on the line and when the season is on the line," Amaro said. "We're certainly pleased to slide A.J. into the top of our rotation."
Manager Ryne Sandberg, who took over for Charlie Manuel in the middle of August, smiled throughout Sunday's press conference. Sandberg will slide the right-handed Burnett into a rotation that features All-Star left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.
"He's a belated Christmas present and Valentine's Day present that I've been waiting for," Sandberg said. "A little late, but I'll take it. He's a different maker for us. He's a big piece. ... I couldn't be happier."