Option A: One year of Joe Blanton for $10.5 million
Option B: Two years of A.J. Burnett for $13 million
There is no way you’re choosing Option A, and that is why despite his disappointments and shortcomings Burnett would have made the Phillies better over the next two seasons.
In order to acquire Burnett — as tweeted by Buster Olney Sunday night — Ruben Amaro was reportedly attempting to trade Blanton to the Angels for Bobby Abreu (gasp!), before trading Abreu back to the Yankees for Burnett.
The salaries of Blanton and Abreu nearly match up — Abreu is due $9 million in 2012 — meaning that the Phillies likely wouldn’t have had to eat much, if any, salary in the proposed deal.
At the end of the day, Yankees GM Brian Cashman likely decided to trade Burnett to the Pirates because potential DH Raul Ibanez would be significantly cheaper than Abreu for slightly less value, and because improving the Pirates means much less than improving the Phillies.
Olney later tweeted that the Phillies saw two years of Burnett as a safe haven to losing Cole Hamels to free agency, but it’s hard to imagine anyone in the organization truly believing the addition of Burnett could make up for the loss of the growing beast that is Hamels.
Rather, the Phillies probably saw the Yankees’ urgency to trade Burnett as a way to snag a high-reward pitcher for just a wee bit more than they owe the low-ceiling Blanton. By including the Angels in the mix, the need for the Phils to eat salary was reduced. The Angels are trying to part with their redundancy (too many outfielders and first basemen) to improve in other areas.
It is this kind of outside-the-box thinking that separates Ruben Amaro from the typical general manager. And it is why, despite several questionable contracts, the Phillies are in good hands being led by someone tirelessly looking to upgrade.