On a day that 42 players became free agents when teams let them go to save money, the New York Yankees made another splashy addition to their starting rotation by reaching a preliminary agreement on an $82.5 million, five-year contract with A.J. Burnett.
NEW YORK — On a day that 42 players became free agents when teams let them go to save money, the New York Yankees made another splashy addition to their starting rotation by reaching a preliminary agreement on an $82.5 million, five-year contract with A.J. Burnett.
Just two days after striking a $161 million, seven-year deal with CC Sabathia, New York added Burnett to a rotation that also includes holdovers Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees are hoping to re-sign Andy Pettitte and have looked at Ben Sheets as an alternative.
"I can sense the excitement and the confidence that's spreading around the entire organization about what we're getting done and what we may get done still," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said earlier Friday, before Burnett's decision became known. "A rising tide lifts all boats, and the confidence and the excitement right now among the team and the organization is contagious."
Burnett won 10 of his last 12 decisions and finished 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA for Toronto. He set career highs in wins, strikeouts (231) and innings (221 1-3).
The World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies added to their offense when they reached a preliminary agreement on a $31.5 million, three-year deal with slugging outfielder Raul Ibanez.
Ibanez will receive a $2 million signing bonus, payable this year, a $6.5 million salary next season and $11.5 million each in 2010 and 2011. The 36-year-old, who takes over for Pat Burrell in left field, batted .293 last season for Seattle with 43 doubles, 23 homers and 110 RBIs.
The deals for Sabathia, Burnett and Ibanez all are subject to the players passing physicals.
Several well-known players were among those let go by teams in the hours before the midnight deadline to offer 2009 contracts to players on rosters. Many teams didn't want to go to salary arbitration with the players and were willing to risk them leaving as free agents.
Among those cut loose were Baltimore pitcher Daniel Cabrera, Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito, Houston infielder Ty Wigginton, Colorado outfielder Willy Taveras, Tampa Bay outfielder Jonny Gomes, San Diego right-hander Clay Hensley and Milwaukee left-hander Chris Capuano.
"Economics forced us to make this decision," Astros general manager Ed Wade said of Wigginton. "If there is an opportunity for us to adjust our payroll later in the offseason, we'd like to see if there's an opportunity to bring him back."
Three lower-level free agents finalized contracts, with Cincinnati acquiring left-hander Arthur Rhodes ($4 million for two years), Arizona getting infielder Felipe Lopez ($3.5 million for one year) and Pittsburgh picking up infielder Ramon Vazquez ($4 million for two years).
The Chicago White Sox finalized an international deal, agreeing to a $10 million, four-year contract with Cuban infielder Dayan Viciedo.
And in the day's one trade, the New York Mets dealt left-hander Scott Schoeneweis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league right-hander Connor Robertson. New York agreed to pay $1.6 million to Arizona to cover part of the $3.6 million salary for Schoeneweis, who went 0-3 with a blown save and a 5.40 ERA in September as the Mets collapsed down the stretch for the second straight year.
Nine players eligible for arbitration agreed to contracts, including Washington outfielder Willie Harris, who got a $3 million, two-year deal.
The Chicago Cubs agreed to one-year contracts with outfielder Reed Johnson ($3 million), right-hander Chad Gaudin ($2 million) and left-hander Neal Cotts ($1.1 million), and the Philadelphia Phillies reached one-year agreements with infielder Eric Bruntlett ($800,000) and right-hander Clay Condrey ($650,000).
Also agreeing to one-year contracts were Detroit infielder Ramon Santiago ($825,000), White Sox outfielder DeWayne Wise ($550,000) and Oakland catcher Rob Bowen ($535,000).