The Phillies are glad to have A.J. Burnett on their pitching staff, as much as A.J. Burnett is glad to be with the Phils, saying, "I'm ready to be part of something special."
It has been speculated that the team's interest grew in Burnett once they learned that Cole Hamels has been battling left shoulder tendinitis, which will land him on the disabled list to start the 2014 regular season. Of course, the front office is refuting such a notion that they became involved in talks with Burnett due to Hamels' injury, and for once I totally believe them.
In fact, the Phillies have had interest in Burnett for years now, not weeks as many believe.
Back in 2012, I wrote an article for Philliedelphia reporting of a three-team rumored deal that involved the Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies. Buster Olney first reported the potential trade, of which the Phillies would swap starter Joe Blanton to Los Angeles for Bobby Abreu, and then the Phillies would then swap Abreu back to the Yankees, where they traded him in 2006, for starter A.J. Burnett.
What the Phillies tried to do last week, sources said today, was trade Joe Blanton for Bobby Abreu, then flip Abreu for Burnett.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 20, 2012
- Angels get: Joe Blanton
- Phillies get: Bobby Abreu A.J. Burnett
- Yankees get: Bobby Abreu
Joel Sherman then provided additional insight to the rumored three-team swap:
Of course, this trade never came to be, or did it? Later that year, on December 12, 2012, Joe Blanton signed with the Angels as a free agent. The Phillies had traded Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier that year on August 3rd, for minor leaguer Ryan O'Sullivan. The Dodgers granted Blanton free agency on October 29th, a few months before he signed on with the team that nearly acquired him earlier that season, the Angels.
Now, fast-forwarding to 2014, the Phillies of course have brought back Bobby Abreu, and have also signed A.J. Burnett to their starting staff, who they wanted all along.
This speculated trade would have occurred during the offseason after they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS.
The very same day that this article was originally posted to Philliedelphia.com, Burnett ended up getting traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates instead for minor leaguers Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones. Clearly, the Yankees were willing to part ways with Burnett for anything, even if it meant a reunion with Bobby Abreu. They got two minor leaguers instead, and only Moreno, 25, remains in the organization with their AA, Trenton Thunder team.
How would the Phillies have fared with A.J. Burnett on their 2012 starting rotation staff if this trade actually came to fruition? He would have been in the mix with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley. Only one could speculate what could have been.
Matt Rappa is a contributor to Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @mattrappa