Rumors of the Orioles being interested in A.J. Burnett are about as old as time. Did you know he lives in Monkton? Yeah, and Jim Palmer never gave up a grand slam. Somehow, despite that, he has never made it into an Orioles uniform, even when, as during this past offseason, they might have been offering him the most money.
The latest time around, with Burnett in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are terrible, the O's would have to trade for him in order to get him. To that end, the Orioles are reported to have had "very preliminary talks" with the Phillies about Burnett, according to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.
If that doesn't sound like much, that's probably because it's not much. As we saw with the Bud Norris Ground Control leaks out of Houston, trade talks are a long process with only occasional activity, made complicated by every other deal the O's might be talking about making, and every other Burnett trade the Phillies might be considering. Any discussion made at any point may not necessarily have any connection to the final outcome.
Something like "very preliminary" could be as simple as Dan Duquette expressing some interest in Burnett.
The 37-year-old Burnett is making $7.5 million this season, with a player option for up to a $12.75 million salary in 2015, depending on how many starts he makes in 2014. Burnett's option reaches maximum value if he starts 32 games. He has already started 21 games this season. He also might go through a whole production about whether or not he wants to retire, not quite at Favre-ian levels, but still quite ridiculous. That's what happened before he signed with Philadelphia this offseason.
How is Burnett doing this year? Turns out he's sporting a 4.08 ERA over 136.2 innings. The O's have their fill of 4+ ERA starters already, but they don't have very many guys who are averaging almost 6.2 innings per start. He walks batters at not quite Ubaldo levels, but still pretty bad - a 3.82 BB/9 for the season. His fastball has lost about 4mph of zip from when he was putting up ERAs in the high 3s with the Blue Jays. His last two years in the AL he had an ERA of 5+.
You have to figure it wouldn't cost much to get Burnett, but how badly do the Orioles need him at all? Who would he displace and what would they do with the player he would push out of the rotation? If the talks move beyond "very preliminary", perhaps we'll find out. Until then, there's not much point in worrying about it.