The Phillies are "very much still in the running" for A.J. Burnett, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reported Monday night. This comes three days after GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury that he didn't suspect the Phils had any more major moves in store.
Amaro said last Friday that it appeared the Phils would head into spring training with the rotation they had, but Burnett is an obvious upgrade to an extremely thin unit. He led the NL in K/9 in 2013 and has the second-best groundball rate in the majors since 2012.
Adding Burnett would give the Phillies a rotation that could contend. Off the top of my head, only the Nationals (Zimmermann-Strasburg-Gonzalez-Fister) and Dodgers (Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu-Haren) would have better rotations. You can add in the Cardinals (Wainwright-Wacha-Miller-Garcia-Lynn) or Giants (Cain-Bumgarner-Lincecum-Hudson) at your discretion, but the point is that the addition of Burnett would make the Phillies formidable in at least one area heading into 2014.
The Orioles, Pirates and Blue Jays seem to be the Phillies' clear competition for Burnett, who could likely be had on a one-year deal worth upwards of the $16.5 million he made in 2013.
But Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reported over the weekend that the O's are likely out on Burnett. "Feeling is he wants to pitch in NL," Kubatko tweeted.
The Blue Jays may be nearing a deal with Ervin Santana, which would take them out of the Burnett sweepstakes.
A chance remains. Signing Burnett hasn't been the Phillies' main goal this offseason, but a lot of their moves -- re-signing Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz, doing little to improve the bullpen, opting for all low-cost commitments -- make much more sense if they result in the ability to land Burnett.