NJ.com's Matt Lombardo reports the Pittsburgh Pirates have expressed interest in Phillies starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. Burnett can block a trade to 21 teams but MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports the Pirates are one of nine teams on Burnett's "acceptable assignment" list. A source told Cotillo a Burnett trade before July 31st is likely and Pittsburgh is the "single best fit" for the right-hander.
The only hold up with a potential Burnett-to-Pittsburgh is his contract. He is owed $4.9 million after July 31st with a $15 million mutual option for 2015. One caveat in the contract is if the Phillies decline their half of the $15 million option, Burnett has a $7.5 player option for 2015.
Burnett, 37, is 5-7 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP through 18 starts with the Phillies this season. His strikeouts-per-nine is down to 7.3, his lowest K/9 since 2001, but still has been largely effective for the Phillies and can help a contender down the stretch.
Burnett will be on display for the Pirates brass on Sunday as he is slated to start for the Phillies at PNC Park at 1:35 pm.
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