Burnett Saga Ending This Weekend?

Reports out of St. Louis indicate this morning that the Cardinals have made a four year offer to free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, however, if you are a regular reader of InsideTheDome, you already knew this earlier in the week. We'll give you your daily dose of the A.J. saga, but this time will tell you when breaking news will occur and much more juicer information.

InsideTheDome reported on November 30 that the St. Louis Cardinals had made Burnett a four-year contract offer with a fifth option year.

The current offer on the table from the Cardinals is a four-year contract worth just under $40 million dollars. There is a fifth year option that would kick in at $10.5 million. If the Cardinals decline the option Burnett would then receive a buyout in the range of $3.5 million.

That offer was made by the Cardinals on Wednesday evening and Camp Burnett was told it's a take-it-or-leave it offer. However, on Thursday the Cardinals received a counteroffer from Camp Burnett. So is that a deal breaker?

"That's what we in the business call the art of negotiation" said one baseball official as he chuckled.

No other club currently has that type of offer on the table, however, those that are interested will jump in soon. We continue to hear the Blue Jays and the Tigers are in the running. We continue to hear the Cubs and Mariners remain in the background of this. We continue to hear the Nationals want to sign Burnett, but are not allowed to offer five years. We also continue to hear the clubs involved want to speed this process up because they believe the New York Mets will jump in the race during the winter meetings.

"Darek Braunecker wants to keep this going on for as long as he can" said one official with knowledge of the negotiations. "The longer it carries on, the more money his client receives."

However, one national league source told us the Mets are looking for pitching, but want a left-handed one, rather than a right-handed one.

"Omar [Minaya] is targeting Zito, and not Burnett."

We mentioned earlier this week that we had enough information to believe the Blue Jays did make an offer to Burnett around the same time as they made their offer to B.J. Ryan. Ricciardi then told Braunecker whichever pitcher agrees to the deal first would be signed, and the other will have to wait. We now hear that the Cardinals also want an answer right away, and don't want to wait until the winter meetings.

"There is an expiration date on the Cardinals offer" said the source. "All I know is it's before Sunday. It could very well be Friday, it could be Saturday, but it is definitely before Sunday evening."

So, if the ‘expiration date' comes and goes, are the Cardinals out of the running for good?

"They have come so far, I'd think they would not be out of it. They will be concentrating more on other options and Burnett will not have their entire attention."

Another high ranking senior official told InsideTheDome all this is just formality.

"We see these ‘expiration dates' every year around the winter meetings. Teams split up their off-season into three segments - before the winter meetings, during the winter meetings, and after the winter meetings. Braunecker could very well let the Cardinals offer expire and end up getting more value in Dallas."

One thing is certain, Burnett will sign immediately if he receives the offer he wants this weekend, and he is expected to receive offers from the Blue Jays and Tigers either Friday or Saturday.

Additional reporting by Bobby Vangelatos

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