Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has a follow-up to A.J. Burnett signing a one-year, $16 million deal with the Phillies, reporting that the free agent right-hander turned down a one-year, $12 million deal from the Pirates.
At the beginning of the offseason Pittsburgh chose not to make Burnett a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer that would have fetched them draft pick compensation if he signed elsewhere (and likely driven down his market value). And then they failed to match the Phillies’ offer, choosing to let Burnett walk over $4 million after he threw 393 innings with a 3.41 ERA for the Pirates during the past two seasons.
Instead they’ll save money and put a lot of faith in guys like Wandy Rodriguez, Charlie Morton, and Edinson Volquez to fill out the rotation behind Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole, who’s suddenly the No. 2 starter at age 23.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.