Phillies, Cardinals could find match for A.J. Burnett

Phillies infielder Cody Asche talks to teammate A.J. Burnett. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

UPDATE (2:29 p.m.): St. Louis found its rotation upgrade elsewhere. The Cardinals traded for Cleveland's Justin Masterson, a righthander on the disabled list with a 5.51 ERA, according to multiple reports. St. Louis traded James Ramsey, a double-A outfielder and their No. 7 prospect as ranked by Baseball America, for Masterson.

NEW YORK — The pitching trade market is suspended one day before the deadline while teams await Jon Lester's destination. Boston scratched its ace pitcher from his scheduled Wednesday start and plan to trade him. A number of contenders are said to be interested.

Lester is viewed as the best available piece. One of the many consolation prizes, A.J. Burnett, could move after a Lester trade is consummated. Both Pittsburgh and St. Louis have pitching needs; neither team appears on Burnett's no-trade clause. Both National League Central teams will aim first for Lester.

The Cardinals, should they miss, are an emerging suitor for Burnett. They need a starter for Saturday, Burnett's day to pitch. The Phillies scouted triple-A Memphis on Tuesday night, according to the the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said the team's Saturday starter may come from an external source.

Burnett, 37, will need hernia surgery after the season. The Mets crushed him Monday for seven runs in five innings. Burnett has a 4.15 ERA in 23 starts. He will likely fetch a mid-level prospect or two — the return could grow if Burnett provides assurances he will forgo a lucrative 2015 option and retire.

When asked whether he has contemplated retirement, Burnett deflected the query.

"I'm trying to go out and win ballgames; that's all I'm worried about," Burnett said. "Next year will take care of itself after this year."

Pittsburgh players have lobbied for Burnett's return, although the team's interest has said to have cooled. That, again, could change whenever Lester lands.

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