On the day pitchers and catchers were required to report to camp, Cole Hamels announced that he was behind schedule in his throwing program after experiencing biceps tendinitis in November.
Less than an hour later, the Phillies reportedly came to an agreement with a pitcher who can help the pitching staff deal with a Hamels setback.
According to multiple reports, the Phils have agreed to a one-year contract with veteran righthander A.J. Burnett.
The deal is for $16 million, foxsports.com reported. The 37-year-old Burnett was 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA in 61 starts with Pittsburgh in the last two seasons.
In the last five seasons, Burnett has averaged 32 starts per season and has logged 977 1/3 innings. Only 19 major league pitchers have pitched more innings during that span.
Burnett led all National League starters in strikeout rate and ground ball rate in 2013.
Burnett, who began his career with the Florida Marlins, was mulling retirement for most of the offseason. The Pirates declined to offer him arbitration in December.
But Burnett changed courses in the middle of last month and said he wanted to pitch in 2014.
The Pirates, Orioles and Phillies were all in pursuit of the pitcher, who makes an offseason home in suburban Maryland. Burnett is a neighbor and friend of Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock and shares an agent with Cliff Lee.
Burnett figures to jump into the rotation after Hamels and Lee (if Hamels is healthy) and in front of Kyle Kendrick and Robert Hernandez. Jonathan Pettibone and Cuban import Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez also enter camp competing for a spot in the rotation.
Burnett was 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts with Pittsburgh in 2013.
With rumors beginning to swirl, Hamels was asked earlier Wednesday morning about the possibility of Burnett joining the rotation.
"He's got unbelievable talent," Hamels said. "Unfortunately, I think he kept us away from another ring. What he brings to the table is great. If we're able to get him, it only helps us out. It doesn't hurt us. He's another veteran who has good experience and a good repertoire. I know he is pretty charismatic. He would be good for us."
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