The Race is On: Red Sox Interested in A.J. Burnett

It's been a couple of years since the Yankees and Red Sox hooked up in an old-fashioned knuckle duster over a free agent. Daisuke Matsuzaka was the last player to draw the ardor of both teams. The Red Sox landed him with a massive payment, the Yankees countered with Kei Igawa and, well, the Red Sox won that one.

Now, according to multiple reports, the two teams are delving into the A.J. Burnett fray. Newsday is reporting that the Red Sox have seriously increased their involvement over the last 36 hours and are now "fully engaged" in the hunt for Burnett's services. Baltimore and Toronto are also throwing their hats in the ring, which should make Burnett and his agent quite happy. Four teams from the same division makes for a serious boom market.

Ryan Dempster signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Cubs yesterday, which should also be music to Burnett's ears. He got that deal on the back of one good year as a starter. Burnett, for all his injury problems, has a longer and better track record than Dempster. The Yankees deny that they made a five-year, $80 million offer to Burnett, but there's little point in denying that Dempster's contract makes five years much more likely to happen.

Burnett's last two trips past 200 innings, he threw 221 last season, were followed by trips to the DL. When you're talking five years, that's a massive risk to take on, especially when you've got to develop young pitchers to win over the long term. While Andy Pettitte and Curt Schilling have their downsides, each would only be a one year deal and allow you to avoid being on the hook for half a decade with a broken pitcher.

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