Anyone notice that Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett still hasn’t filed for free agency? That’s not a mistake, but all it means s Burnett’s contract situation is a tad different than that of other free agents. When Burnett informed Toronto that he was opting out last week, he put in motion a process that will terminate his current contract on Thursday.
“It’s a little different situation,” explained Darek Braunecker, Burnett’s agent. “It’s an actual termination of contract, is what it is. He becomes eligible for free agency via termination of contract, so it’s a little different filing process. We had to notify the club, both verbally and in writing, and then it’s passed on to the Commissioner’s Office.”
So, on Friday, Burnett can begin listening to new contract offers from other clubs. The Blue Jays are still interesting in retaining Burnett, as unlikely a scenario as that is beginning to seem, but the club will likely have competition for the pitcher in the Yankees, Orioles and possibly the Braves, among others.
As the free-agent period opens, the Jays are also in the mix for a power bat, a shortstop and possibly a backup catcher — the latter an issue Toronto may be content with solving internally. As for the bat, Toronto has some interest in Manny Ramirez, though the club probably can’t afford him, while Jason Giambi, Milton Bradley and Raul Ibanez might also be targets. At short, the Jays have been rumored to have interest in Rafael Furcal and also talked to the Padres about a possible trade for Khalil Greene.
In the pitching department, if the Blue Jays insist that they can’t get into a bidding war to keep Burnett, it seems unlikely that the club will be able to make a push for the top available arms. Even so, it’s been reported that Toronto is believed to have already approached the representatives for Ryan Dempster, Derek Lowe and maybe even Ben Sheets. The Jays are rumored to have interest in Brad Penny as well.