eteran starter A.J. Burnett was supposed to be home in Maryland now, shoveling snow, and playing with his kids. Instead, he found himself sitting in the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse, chatting with his new teammates, and explaining how he got here. "This is the first time in my career,'' Burnett said, "that I made a decision that wasn't about A.J. Burnett. "It was about my wife. "It was about my kids. "It was about playing close to home. "It feels good. It was a no-brainer for me.'' Burnett, 37, lives just 1 ½ hours away from Philadelphia, in Monkton, Md. So signing a one-year, $16 million contract with the Phillies, including a $15 million player option or $7.5 million team option in 2015, wasn't a matter of simply waiting for the right deal. "It took me a while to make up my mind,'' Burnett said. "The decision took forever because of my family.'' Burnett, in fact, had decided to retire when the Pirates' season ended with a playoff loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. If he was going to pitch again, he said, it would be with the Pirates. He started to slowly change his mind in January, and the Phillies pounced on it. "At the time, that's where I was,'' Burnett said. "It was a long year. But when January came around, and talking to my wife and my family, I wasn't ready to let go yet.'' The Pirates offered a one-year, $12 million contract when it became clear that Burnett was going to delay retirement. Yet, the Phillies' offer blew it away, as well as the proximity to home. "It became a no-brainer,'' he said. And no, Burnett insists, his decision had nothing to do with the Pirates' decision to bypass him in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. "I don't take anything (away) from Pittsburgh,'' Burnett said. "I had great two years there. It gave me an opportunity when a lot of people were counting me out. It kind of revived me. That city took me in like I've never been taken in before in my whole career. "And that will never be forgotten.'' And yes, it was a no-brainer for the Phillies, despite the signing pushing them close to the $189 million luxury tax figure. "The opportunity to bring A.J. to Philadelphia was kind of the perfect fit for us,'' Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says, "a top of the rotation talent. Someone who knows what it takes to win a championship. Someone who knows how to pitch when the game is on the line, and season is on the line.'' Says Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg: "He's a belated Christmas present and Valentines present. A little late. But I'll take it. "He's a difference maker for us.'' Burnett, who likely will slot between left-handed All-Stars Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, replaces Roy Halladay in the rotation.
A.J. Burnett on Phillies: 'A no-brainer for me'
USA Today | Feb 16