So A.J. Burnett is signed, and the MLB's website is reporting J.P. Ricciardi's contract extension through 2010 and a 5:30 p.m. Eastern press conference scheduled for the official announcement of A.J. Burnett's signing. (TV: Sportsnet; on the web: TSN and MLB.com with live webcast).
Terms, according to this morning's reports: 5 years, $55 million. Jeff Blair at the Globe reported this morning that the first year would be $7 million, and the remaining four years at $12 million each. Geoff Baker's Hit and Run column from Dallas this morning looks in more detail at yesterday's frantic to and fro that led up to the deal. (UPDATE: Baker reports this afternoon that of that first year salary, all but $1 million will come in the form of a $6 million signing bonus, that bonus money spread over the lifetime of the deal giving them a little more financial room to acquire a bat and come in on their payroll target this season).
Leaving aside the money -- darned if those free agents are expensive, aren't they? -- the Jays now have a couple of 28-year-old starters just entering their primes in Roy Halladay and Burnett, and a soon to be 30-year-old closer in B.J. Ryan. They have some flexibility now in what they can do with the rest of the rotation, including, presumably, trading some of their excess arms to acquire the power hitter they need to complete the major items on the winter check list. Right now the rotation sets up as Halladay, Burnett, Chacin, Lilly and either Towers or Bush, but the lefty Lilly and young Bush would seem to be the most valuable in terms of a trade, along with Batista.
I'll be adding to this as items come in this afternoon, and from the press conference(s), after the jump. Meantime, the windows are open to take your thoughts.
From the J.P. Ricciardi press conference: an extension to 2010 for the GM. No terms announced.
Not much out of that to report on the A.J. Burnett front, except that Ricciardi did
say the Jays had interviewed the surgeon who did the Tommy John surgery on Burnett two years ago. Burnett has been on the DL six times in his career, but presumably he has passed his physical, which was done in Florida.
Other stuff: This is good news for Ricciardi, insofar as his shopping list: Apart from not getting Brian Giles he has managed to land his other two top targets, the top-rated starter and reliever among this year's free agent class.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have done nothing besides getting Kyle Farnsworth and aren't having much luck finding a CF, and the Red Sox, with Burnett's former Marlins teammate Josh Beckett in the fold, are on the Manny watch.
Some good threads ongoing at Batters Box and Blue Jay Way, including the debate about Burnett moving from a pitcher's park in Florida to a hitter's park here. Then there is the old NL to AL switch, which always makes me shudder -- though according to these numbers, there's not that big a difference.
Couple of things from Jeff Blair's blog over at the Globe: Jays are shopping Alex Rios, and Brad Wilkerson, who could be Ricciardi's target No. 1, could be part of a package. And oh yeah, Manny Ramirez to Anaheim in a three-way involving Arizona is also bubbling over.
From the A.J. Burnett press conference:
Paul Godfrey and J.P. Ricciardi fit him with a No. 34.
Godfrey: "This started back on Feb. 3 of '05, the fact is, that was the day our ownership under the leadership of Ted Rogers decided to buy the facility we play in ... it was quite obvious that the Blue Jays had to control the destiny of their own building."
Repeats the Blue Jays' salary limits for the next three seasons: $210 million. $75 million for this year.
"J.P. has gone out and very carefully monitored the situations of the players available, and went after the ones he thought would fit inside the Blue Jays' 25-man roster."
Burnett makes $250,000 contribution to Jays Care Foundation.
"This is JP's plan from the day I hired him. We knew there was a lot of work we had to do over the years. He has stuck religiously to the plan ... He didn't get drawn away by former superstars that were in the twilight years of their career. He had to rebuild the farm system ... We're entering into a period now of finding the missing pieces. We are much more competitive now than we have been in a number of years."
Jays had one scout, sometimes two, at every game Burnett pitched this past season.
"We're looking forward to seeing him and Halladay come out at Yankee Stadium and Fenway next time we have to face them."
"We looked at his age. I think there's a big upside here. I don't think we'd get involved with someone in their mid-30s. Age is a big factor here."
On the AL East: "We're a lot closer now than we've ever been."
And on mlb.com, what's ahead next: "We're looking at a couple of bats -- not the 40-HR kind of guy, but maybe a couple of guys who can hit 20 HRs. We have a lot of flexibility now ... We (have improved. We just ended up with BJ Ryan, we were 16-31 in one-run games last years, we've covered the back end of our bullpen, and we got our No. 2 guy, everyone slides down. Chacin is a No. 3 guy now, Lilly our No. 4."
"The people I met there were just one big family ... that's one of the reasons I chose the Toronto Blue Jays ... on the field I get to work with (pitching coach) Brad Arnsberg again. 2002 (with Arnsberg in Florida) was the best season of my career. This is going to be a fun five years. ... Me having a relationship with the pitching coach there and him knowing me better than I do myself had something to do with it. Growing up, I wasn't that much of a Cardinals fan -- my family was."
On B.J. Ryan's presence: "It did help. ... but I kinda knew in my heart this was the place from the first time."