Blue Jays offer arbitration to Burnett

The Toronto Blue Jays confirmed Monday that they have offered arbitration to free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, securing them two picks in next June's draft if he rejects the offer and signs with another major-league team.

The Toronto Blue Jays will receive compensation if free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett signs elsewhere.

The Blue Jays confirmed Monday that they have offered arbitration to Burnett, guaranteeing them a pair of picks in next June's amateur draft if he rejects it and signs with another major-league team.

Burnett, 31, is almost certain to reject arbitration after he opted out of the final two years of his five-year, $55-million US contract with Toronto to test the open market.

Depending on which team signs him, Toronto will receive a pick in either the first or second round, and a pick in the sandwich round.

The sandwich round is a compensatory round held between the first and second rounds, with the order of picks determined by inverse standings.

Burnett, a Type A free agent, is still coveted by the Blue Jays, but he might prove too pricey to retain because the current economic climate is forcing them to trim payroll.

He reportedly is seeking $15 million to $18 million per season over five years, following a sensational season in which he posted an 18-10 record with a 4.07 earned-run average and led the American League with 231 strikeouts in a career-high 221 1/3 innings.

Burnett is 87-76 lifetime with a 3.81 ERA in 215 appearances, including 211 starts, since he broke into the majors with the Florida Marlins on Aug. 17, 1999.

Toronto elected not to offer arbitration to 38-year-old catcher Gregg Zaun, a Type B free agent who would have fetched them a sandwich pick.

With files from the Canadian Press