I’m opposed. Damn, damn opposed. Burnett has topped 200 innings three times out of seven complete seasons. Two of those times came on the eve of his walk year. Until winning 18 in ’08, Burnett had never topped 12 wins. His career ERA: 3.81.
Yes, his stuff is fantastic, and he was dominant in the second half last season, compiling a 2.86 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 82 innings. But the risk is too great, and signing him for five years would be asking for trouble.
The last Braves pitcher to sign for five years? Greg Maddux. A.J. Burnett is no Greg Maddux. Obviously. Hell, Zane Smith had a better career ERA than the flaky former Marlin.
Why not take a chance on Ben Sheets instead? No one seems that interested in the Milwaukee ace, who’s nearly two years younger than Burnett and has better career numbers. He’s not asking for five years, and seemingly won’t get anything close to what Burnett appears poised to receive.
Granted, he suffered a muscle tear near his elbow that hindered him down the stretch, but there’s no ligament damage. Sheets pitched over 200 innings three times, and he would’ve accomplished his fourth such season had he pitched two more innings in ’08.
If you’re going to take a chance on an oft-injured starter, go with the more affordable option.