The Toronto Blue Jays' off-season quest for a rotation upgrade continues according to reports, they could be considering a journey through the recent past.
Reports surfacing Wednesday in The Globe and Mail and Thursday in the Toronto Star suggest that the Jays could be considering a run at free agent starter A.J. Burnett, now that he's believed to be available.
The 37-year-old Burnett had previously announced his intention to retire instead of playing the 2014 season. Based on that assumption, the Pittsburgh Pirates did not tender him a qualifying offer meaning that signing him as a free agent carries no compensatory draft pick.
It's believed that Burnett would prefer to pitch closer to his Maryland home, but – unlike previous reports – he is believed to have softened on his desire to pitch only for the Pirates.
Burnett is one of several free agent arms that the Jays have been linked to through the rumour mill of late; a list that is also believed to include Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.
In 30 appearances with the Pirates last season, Burnett posted a 10-11 record with a 3.30 earned-run average and a 1.215 WHIP. He finished with the National League's highest strikeout/nine innings ratio last season, with 9.8.
His groundout-to-flyout ratios have been higher the past two seasons in Pittsburgh (2.05 in 2012, 1.90 in 2013) than every other year of his MLB career save 2005 with the Florida Marlins and are both well above both his career average of 1.36 and the MLB average of 1.08.
Burnett has posted a 147-132 career record over 15 MLB seasons with the Pirates, Marlins, Blue Jays and New York Yankees with a 3.99 career ERA, a 1.315 WHIP and a K/9 ratio of 8.3.
He signed with the Jays as a free agent prior to the 2006 season to serve as the team's No. 2 starter behind Roy Halladay. He went 38-26 over those three seasons, including an 18-win performance in 2008 which tied him for the 10th-highest single-season total in franchise history.
Originally signed to a five-year, $55 million deal by then-Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, Burnett opted out of the deal after three years to sign a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Yankees.