UPDATE: According to Royals beat writer Andy McCullough, the Royals are slowly backing away from Burnett, in fear of his 2015 option.
EARLIER: In a confusing move, the Royals are asking about Phillies starter A.J. Burnett, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Kansas City is not in any sort dominant position in the AL Central or Wild Card. Their pitching is decent, but where they are really struggling is on offense.
Pursuing Burnett in a market that also includes more consistent arms like Bartolo Colon and John Lackey is underwhelming, if they are looking for a piece to propel them into the playoff conversation. They could get more use out of a bat, like, say, Marlon Byrd (who of course has the Royals as part of his no-trade clause).
The 37-year-old Burnett currently has a higher ERA (4.15) than four of the six starting pitchers the Royals have used in their rotation this season. He leads the NL in walks, as well as games started and batters faced. There is also the matter of Burnett's no-trade clause, which is in his contract in order to prevent him from being moved too far from his family in Maryland.
Burnett had previously been a target of the Pirates and Orioles, but talks seem to have stalled.