The Phillies continue to explore trades before the July 31 trade deadline that will bring the team some young talent going forward. Some of the Phillies have drawn trade interest, including starter A.J. Burnett. Burnett has drawn some interest from both the Baltimore Orioles, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that Burnett spent the last two seasons with. However, there may be a big of a snag if the Phillies hope to move him.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Burnett's contract option for 2015 is a major obstacle in reuniting Burnett with the Pirates:
The Phillies and A.J. Burnett wouldn't mind working out a deal for him to go to Pittsburgh, but the Pirates' interest, believed mild at best, might fall further if Burnett intends to pick up a player option for next year that's likely to be worth $12.75 million.
The option is for $7.5 million at its minimum, but just 32 games started brings it up to $12.75 million, which would be a budget buster for Pittsburgh.
As Heyman notes, the Pirates were willing to offer Burnett a contract in the offseason. Some reports had Burnett offended that the Pirates were not willing to extend a qualifying offer of one year and $14.1 million.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote that both Burnett and the Pirates players are very interested in bringing their old teammate back:
The contract indeed is complicated. Cot's Baseball Contracts spells it out:
2 years/$22.5M (2014-15)
signed by Philadelphia as a free agent 2/16/14
$7.5M signing bonus ($1M on 12/15/14, $2.75M on 1/15/15, $3.75M on 6/30/15)
14:$7.5M, 15:$15M mutual option ($1M buyout) or $7.5M player option
buyout paid if Burnett has fewer than 30 starts in 2014 & one side declines
2015 player option increases to $8.5M with 24 GS in 2014, $10M with 27 GS, $11.75M with 30 GS, $12.75M with 32 GS
annual performance bonuses: $0.5M each for 24, 27 GS. $0.75M for 30 GS
limited no-trade protection (may block trades to 20 clubs, including all clubsexcept Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Kansas City, NY Mets, NY Yankees, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Washington)
Would the Phillies pick up enough of that money to make it worthwhile for Pittsburgh? Possibly, but the Pirates are not willing to deal a prospect worthy of all that money, the Phillies might be better off hanging on to Burnett and trying again next year.